America's Oldest · Founded 1808

Philly native Hugh Panaro returns as Fagin in Oliver!

September 18, 2009

Philadelphia, PA: Walnut Street Theatre is proud to make its first casting announcement regarding its upcoming 2009 production of Oliver! Philadelphia native, Broadway vet and Barrymore Award-winning actor Hugh Panaro will return as the charmingly villainous Fagin in this all new version of Lionel Bart's beloved musical. The Walnut's all-new production of Oliver! will start on November 10, open November 18, and run through January 10, 2010 on the Walnut Street Theatre mainstage.

Hugh Panaro is celebrated as one of Broadway's leading tenors. Born in Philadelphia, Hugh served as a church organist at Saint Helena's Roman Catholic Church during high school and studied music at Temple University (BA in voice, class of '85). One of Hugh's first professional roles was right here at The Walnut Street Theatre for the 1986 production of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music.

In the 20 years after his Walnut debut, Hugh took Broadway by storm in Les Misérables (Marius Pontmercy), The Phantom of the Opera (as Raoul and as The Phantom) and as the title character in Elton John's Letsat (among many, many other roles).

In the spring of 2008, Hugh returned to the Walnut as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. His performance was universally acclaimed, with over 100,000 theatre goers flocking to the show during its record-breaking run. Hugh's performance garnered the 2008 Barrymore Award for Best Actor in a Musical. He is an extremely talented and versatile performer looking forward to creating his own version of Fagin, the dastardly yet undeniably charming leader of a children's pickpocketing gang. We are very proud to welcome Hugh back to his hometown, and he is very excited to be returning. He is also excited to again work with Director Mark Clements.

Mark Clements has helmed many successful productions here at WST, including last season's smash re-imagining of Les Misérables, 2007's Of Mice and Men (Barrymore Award - Best Direction of a Play), this season's Born Yesterday and many others. Oliver! reunites Mark with Musical Director Douglass G. Lutz, Scenic Designer Todd Edward Ivins, Lighting Designer Jeff Nellis and Costume Designer Colleen Grady. Joining this successful team is Choreographer Mary Jane Houdina, whose work has been wowing Walnut audiences for years in such shows as 42nd Street and Hairspray. Together, this design team will present an Oliver! like none seen before.

This is the first of numerous casting announcements regarding the Walnut's upcoming 201st season.