A big heart for Nancy in Oliver!, the biggest show on the road - heading for Southampton’s Mayflower

30 adults, 24 children, a 15-piece orchestra and ten huge trailers to take it around the country...

As Cat Simmons says, Oliver! - in Cameron Mackintosh’s monumental production - is simply massive.

And massively good fun.

“It’s a tremendous form of escapism”, says Cat who sadly doesn’t get to escape much at all as the doomed heroine Nancy (opposite Brian Conley as Fagin). “But in times of financial crisis, I am all for creating a bit of entertainment.”

By the time the show reaches Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre (May 1–26), Cat will still be just a few weeks into her run.

But the great news is that it’s another part ticked off the list she drew up at the age of ten.

Cat might be better known for her regular role as DC Kezia Walker in the long-running ITV drama The Bill and as Scarlett Anderson in Family Affairs for Channel 5.

But at the age of ten, she was dreaming of all the great musical theatre roles she’d love to come her way. She’s achieved some and added quite a few more in the years since. But Nancy was certainly on that original wish-list.

“Nancy is a great part. What I love about the part is that she has been a member of Fagin’s gang from a young age, and she also loves a guy who is a brute, but then this child, Oliver, comes along. He is all on his own and she feels in her heart the need to protect him. It just turns everything upside down. In fact, she gives her life for Oliver. It’s a dark piece.

“The way I get my head around (being murdered every night) is to think that justice is served at the end of the piece. I am not one to take my part home with me. Just as well, really. It would be very very messy!”

Tickets for Oliver! (May 1-26) are on sale from The Mayflower on 02380 711811 or online at mayflower.org.uk.