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Geoffrey Rush to Star as OLIVER! Composer Lionel Bart in Upcoming Musical Biopic


According to the Daily Mail, Geoffrey Rush will once again bridge the stage-screen gap by playing OLIVER! composer Lionel Bart in an upcoming biopic, directed by Vadim Jean. Filming is set to begin this fall.

Writer and composer Elliot Davis is also on board for what Jean says is "a full-blown musical, and we're using versions of his songs in ways that you've never heard before." He added: "The idea is to place the songs -- some very well-known, others less so -- into situations that help tell his story."

Read the original report here.

Rush will play Bart later on in life, which means we'll have to stay tuned for casting news for the composer's younger years.

Jean is also searching for actors to play Barbara Windsor, George Sewell, Miriam Karlin and other members of Bart's troupe at the Theatre Royal.

Peter Darling (Billy Elliot, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) will choreograph.

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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