A musical that’s been on its national tour and has been making some big headlines is the pick-pocketing and all-singing Oliver! The Musical.
Arriving at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton from May 1-26, and touring on the same year as Charles Dickens’s bicentenary in Portsmouth, the musical tells Dickens’s popular story of the little boy who asked for more.
Starring in Cameron Mackintosh’s production of the musical as Mr Bumble is Portsmouth-born Jack Edwards.
Having grown up in the city as Eddie Willis, Jack says: ‘It’s such a massive experience. I’m used to being in the West End which is a completely different kettle of fish. We’re in venues for six to eight weeks which is easier but it’s still a long way from home.
‘But I love it, I really love it. It’s been a great show and it’s a part I’ve always wanted to play. I never thought I’d play it now because I thought I was too young, but clearly not’
Growing up knowing the film version of Oliver, Jack was well aware of his character and the way Sir Harry Secombe portrayed him.
He says: ‘I always thought growing up as a kid he’s actually quite a nice man because we’ve taken it from Harry Secombe in the film. But he’s actually not. If you go to the book he’s a bit mean and frightening. There’s a dark side to it.’
Jack may be involved with events at the Kings Theatre and the Portsmouth Players, but it will be the first time he’s performed so close by professionally.
He explains: ‘I can’t wait! When I was first offered it, it was tough because it’s a long time away from home, but I saw that it said Southampton for four weeks.
‘As much as I love the West End I really love coming home. I know Southampton isn’t my home town but it’s the next best thing.’
The production has been covered a lot in the national press, especially when Samantha Barks, who played Nancy, was announced as playing Eponine in the film version of Les Miserable.
Starring Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, some of the film was even filmed in Portsmouth.
Jack says: ‘It was one of the most incredible things to experience. We were in Manchester about to do the curtain call when all these cameras came out and Camera Macintosh walked on stage and started making this speech.
‘Sam had said she’d love to do it and had a screen test but that it would probably go to someone in Hollywood. I mean wow, what an experience to be part of.’
Tickets cost £20 to £46.50 from the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton on (023) 8071 1811 or go to mayflower.org.uk.