He will begin performances Dec. 14, and will continue in the role until June 2010. Rhys Jones first shot to fame in the satirical TV comedy series "Not the Nine O'Clock News" (broadcast from 1979 to 1982 on BBC2), whose company also included Rowan Atkinson, who originated the role of Fagin when this production began performances at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in December 2008.
Onstage Rhys Jones won the Laurence Olivier Award for best comedy performance in 1984 and 1994, for his appearances in productions of Charley's Aunt and An Absolute Turkey, respectively. He has also appeared in The Front Page at the Donmar Warehouse, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at the Queen's, Trumpets and Raspberries at the Phoenix Theatre, and as Toad in Nicholas Hytner's National Theatre's production of The Wind in the Willows. He was last seen onstage appearing in a 2001 production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, seen as part of the Covent Garden Festival. On TV he has appeared in three series of "Three Men in a Boat" (and will shortly be doing a fourth), and urged the British public to vote to save British buildings in "Restoration," and played a key personal role in the appeal fund for the restoration of Hackney Empire. He has recently been seen on the BBC1 series "Rivers with Griffith Rhys Jones."
In a press statement, producer Cameron Mackintosh said, "I've wanted to work with Griff for years so I’m delighted that the marvellous role of Fagin has tempted him back to the stage this Christmas. Griff is an actor with an amazing array of successful talents, all of which will undoubtedly be poured into his unique and entertaining interpretation of one of Dickens’ most famous and beloved creations. I can't wait!”
Jodie Prenger, who won the role of Nancy by public vote in the BBC reality TV casting show "I'd Do Anything!," will continue in the role to March 2010. Steve Hartley returns to the role of Bill Sikes, taking over from Burn Gorman, on Sept. 15, having previously played the role during the original run of this production at the London Palladium in the mid-90s.
Oliver! 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. The production is produced in association with the Southbrook Group Limited. To book tickets, contact the box office at 0844 412 2955 or visit www.oliverthemusical.com.