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Geoffrey Rush Set to Play OLIVER! Composer Lionel Bart in Musical Biopic

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According to Deadline, Geoffrey Rush has officially signed on to play OLIVER! composer Lionel Bart in Vadim Jean's upcoming musical biopic CONSIDER YOURSELF.

Stephen Fry, Michelle Dockery, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan, Matt Lucas and Al Weaver will co-star in the film, featuring a script by Elliot Davis.

The biopic "tells the untold story of Lionel Bart, an untrained musician who couldn't read or write music and yet became the first person to have three West End musicals running. At one point in the early 1960's, Bart was earning more in song royalties than the Beatles and still managed to lose it all. The film charts his rise and fall, using Bart's own songs, and eventual resurgence with one last chance to reclaim his music and his reputation."

Rumors of Rush's initial involvment with the project arose last summer.

Bart began his composing career by writing songs for Unity Theatre, where he was spotted by Joan Littlewood and eventually joined her Theatre Workshop. His first musical was 1959's Lock Up Your Daughters, followed by Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be, Oliver!, Blitz!, Maggie May, Twang!, La Strada, Lionel! and more.

Outside the theatre, Bart wrote pop songs for the likes of Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Anthony Newley, Andy Williams, Jack Jones, Adam Faith, Russ Conway and more. He also penned the theme song for the 1963 James Bond movie From Russia with Love. He received an Ivor Novello Award for his lifetime achievements in 1986. Bart passed away in 1999.

In related news, Cameron Mackintosh is also currently developing a new film adaptation of OLIVER! The 1968 version of OLIVER! won five Oscars, including Best Picture. Based on the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, the musical version premiered in the West End in 1960, followed by Broadway in 1963 and several major revivals, including 2011's UK tour.

Rush acted for many years with the QTC, starring in The Marriage of Figaro and many Shakespeare plays. Rush made his Broadway debut in 2009's Exit the King, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play. In 2010, the actor starred in the Australian tour of The Drowsy Chaperone -- the upcoming film version of the musical featuring Rush is set to begin production in 2014. In 2011, Rush starred in The Diary of a Madman at BAM, for which he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award.

Rush is well known for his portrayal of 'Barbossa' in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. He will next be seen on the big screen in Gods of Egypt. Other recent film credits include The Book Thief, The Eye of the Storm, Green Lantern, The Warrior's Way, The King's Speech, Bran Nue Dae, Elizabeth: The Golden Age and more.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride


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