Oliver leaves them wanting more: Celebrities among crowd wowed on big opening night

Oliver! at the Playhouse. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Oliver! at the Playhouse. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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CONSIDER yourself at home – that was the message for the sell-out audience at the Edinburgh Playhouse last night.

Stars of the BBC Scotland soap River City joined CBBC favourites James Mackenzie and Katrina Bryan were among the well-known faces in the opening night crowd for Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s smash hit production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver!

Based on Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, the musical tells the tale of an orphaned boy, ensnared by London’s criminal underworld.

Sir Cameron was forced to pull out of the evening at the last minute when filming commitments on the forthcoming movie version of his record-breaking musical Les Miserables overran.

As the curtain fell on the opening performance, Edinburgh actor Mackenzie, best known to TV audiences as Raven, said: “It’s lovely to see such a big company bringing a spectacular show to life. Full credit to everyone on stage.”

Bryan, known to pre-school children everywhere as Nina of Nina and the Neurons, and to adults as Taggart pathologist Dr Ellis Sinclair, said: “As Long As He Needs Me is one of my favourite songs and Cat Simmons as Nancy just blew me away.”

Other famous faces spotted in the sell-out 3032-strong audience included River City stars Eileen McCallum, Claire Knight, Shabana Bakhsh and the ever popular Shieldinch hairdresser Robbie Fraser, alias Gary Lamont.

He said: “I’m insanely jealous of how talented the youngsters are. Considering what they have to do they are an absolute triumph.”

At a glittering after-show bash at the Glasshouse hotel, star of the evening Brian Conley, who minutes earlier had been Reviewing the Situation as Fagin, said: “The company and I have been absolutely blown away by the amazing reaction to the show here in Edinburgh.

“We’ve all been really excited about bringing this production to Scotland that we are all so proud of and are only sorry we are only here for the next three weeks.”

Oliver! which will run at the Greenside Place venue until June 23, is the first in a number of large-scale musicals to tour to the Capital as part of the Playhouse’s aim to bring the best of Broadway to Edinburgh.

General manager Gary Roden said: “To have a show of this scale with us for four weeks is an amazing coup. We are very proud, yet again, to have been selected as the only Scottish venue to be showcasing the phenomenal theatre that Sir Cameron Mackintosh produces. ”