Djalili will take over beginning July 20, after Atkinson's departure on July 18, with Jodie Prenger – who won the role of Nancy by public vote in the reality TV series "I'd Do Anything!" – continuing in the show. Djalili and Prenger are currently scheduled to appear together to Dec. 12. The show has also announced that it has extended its current booking period through Feb. 27, 2010, for which tickets will go on sale beginning Feb. 23, 2009.
In a press statement, producer Cameron Mackintosh said, "Oliver! has been a success beyond my wildest dreams and I'm thrilled that Rowan Atkinson has had such a tremendous triumph in a role I always thought he was born to play. The only way to follow such a unique performance is with a talent just as unique yet entirely different. No one could fulfil this criteria better than Omid Djalili. Omid started his career as an actor but was soon to become a major television star and one of the funniest comic actors and writers in Britain who regularly plays unforgettable cameos in movies. It is his ability to inhabit his characters with such comic energy and wily cunning that will make his Fagin his own. Undoubtedly the first Iranian ever to portray Dickens' legendry Jewish creation we all look forward to him becoming part of the family in July."
Djalili was most recently seen in his own show for BBC1, "The Omid Djalili Show," which he both wrote and starred in. A second series begins transmission in April. In the United States he co-starred with Whoopi Goldberg in her sitcom "Whoopi" on NBC. He has appeared in numerous films including "The Mummy," "Gladiator" and "Pirates of the Caribbean III."
Oliver!, which opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane Jan. 14 (following previews that began Dec. 13, 2008), is directed by Rupert Goold, along with co-director and choreographer Matthew Bourne. Production design is by Anthony Ward; lighting design by Paule Constable; and sound is by Paul Groothuis, with orchestrations by William D. Brohn.
To book tickets call the box office at 0844 412 2955 or visit www.oliverthemusical.com.