The first performance will now be Dec. 13 at 7:30 PM with previews then continuing prior to the official opening, Jan. 14, 2009.
In a press statement, Mackintosh said, "Due to the complexity of the production and the need to safely rehearse 150 children with the adult company of 35 actors on a moving set, we have decided that we need extra rehearsal time and therefore, with great regret, I have decided to cancel the first two previews. Licensing regulations require us to have three teams of 50 children, many of whom are on stage for most of the show. Each scene has to be rehearsed three times and, as the set is very large and complicated, it is imperative that they are rehearsed in complete safety. I am terribly sorry for the disappointment this will cause, but my team are doing everything to reseat patrons into future performances as quickly as possible. In the meantime, we are working towards creating a fantastic show which will be the largest production of Oliver! ever seen."
Customers booked into these canceled performances are advised to contact their original point of sale to arrange an exchange or refund.
The production stars Rowan Atkinson as Fagin, with Jodie Prenger – who won the role of Nancy by public vote, following the BBC1 reality TV show "I'd Do Anything" – sharing the role with Australian Tamsin Carroll, who starred in Cameron Mackintosh's 2002 Australian production of Oliver!, winning every single major Australian award for Best Actress in a Musical, and will play the role on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
Also in the cast are Julius D'Silva as Mr. Bumble, Wendy Ferguson as Widow Corney, Julian Glover as Mr. Brownlow, Rosemary Leach as Mrs. Bedwin and Julian Bleach and Louise Gold as Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry, respectively. The role of Oliver will be shared by the winners of BBC1's "I'd Do Anything": Lawrence Jeffcoate, Gwion Wyn Jones and Harry Stott. The Artful Dodgers will be Eric Dibb Fuller, Robert Madge and Ross McCormack. The cast will also feature Chris Bennett, Jay Bryce, Philip Catchpole, Matthew Clark, Mary Cormack, Hadrian Delacey, Alison Dormer, Tom Edden, Cara Elston, Susan Fay, Jenny Fitzpatrick, Lyndsey Gardiner, Ian Jervis, Robert Kershaw, Tim Laurenti, Rebecca Louis, Claire Rickard, David Roberts, Oliver Roll, Myra Sands, Charlotte Spencer, Spencer Stafford, Hollie Taylor and Lynne Wilmot. The production is directed by Rupert Goold, co-directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne and is based on the 1994 Sam Mendes production that played at the London Palladium for over three years.
To book tickets contact the box office at 0844 412 2955 or visit www.oliverthemusical.com.