The original pool of 12 boys competing to share the role was previously reduced to eight semi-finalists, and from these 11-year-old Gwion Jones from Carmarthenshire, 12-year-old Harry Stott from Oxfordshire and 11-year-old Laurence Jeffcoate from Cheshire have been selected.
After hearing he had won, Gwion said, "It was very nerve-wracking at first, waiting to find out and then, when I was told I was Oliver I was ecstatic! I couldn't quite believe it and I thought I was dreaming. My mum gave me the biggest hug ever and I couldn't breathe!" Harry, in turn, said, "When I found out I was incredibly excited and surprised. I had been dreaming of what it would feel like for so long and then it happened, I couldn't believe it was for real. It didn't sink in for a few minutes that I was actually going to be playing Oliver!" And, Laurence added, "It was completely overwhelming. I was ecstatic and it was the greatest feeling in my life ever! My mum couldn't believe it and started crying then gave me a big hug and told me she was so proud of me, which made me cry too!"
In a press statement, Andrew Lloyd Webber said, "Cameron and I agree we have three very different Olivers, but I think it's a great result and I think whichever Oliver you go and see you're going to get a fantastic performance." Mackintosh added, "The talent we have unearthed has been terrific."
As previously reported, Oliver! will star Rowan Atkinson as Fagin. The production will open at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on Jan. 14, 2009, following previews from Dec. 12.