Teacher excited to take on dastardly role in musical Oliver

Hebburn man Andrew Fearon, an arts teacher in Sunderland, is playing Bill Sikes in a production of Oliver.
Hebburn man Andrew Fearon, an arts teacher in Sunderland, is playing Bill Sikes in a production of Oliver.

A South Tyneside actor is taking on a dastardly role in a famous musical.

Andrew Fearon is set to play Bill Sikes in a production of Oliver at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House, in Newcastle.

Hebburn man Andrew Fearon, an arts teacher in Sunderland, is playing Bill Sikes in a production of Oliver. With Caroline Sabiston as Nancy.

Hebburn man Andrew Fearon, an arts teacher in Sunderland, is playing Bill Sikes in a production of Oliver. With Caroline Sabiston as Nancy.

The show, from the West End Operatic Society, runs from April 6 to 9.

Andrew, from Hebburn, says he’s always wanted to play Bill Sikes.

The 34-year-old, who is head of creative arts at Farringdon Community Academy, in Sunderland, said: “It’s a challenging role and one I’ve always wanted to do.

“I’ve directed Oliver a few times before and played Mr Bumble, but I’ve always wanted to play Bill Sikes.

They say in this business you should never work with children or animals but I’m doing both in this and it’s going great.

Andrew Fearon

“We’ve got two Nancys, Olivers and Dodgers, so it’s been interesting in rehearsals but everyone is working really hard and it’s becoming a really great show.

“They say in this business you should never work with children or animals but I’m doing both in this and it’s going great.

“The dog we’ve got was really nervous at first, but is really settling into the role now.”

The role of is very different to Andrew’s last appearance with the society after playing Edna Turnblad in last year’s production of Hairspray.

He said: “Going from playing a woman to a person that beats women up is very different.

“It’s a challenge, but one I’m really excited about. It’s such a well-loved show and the songs are so famous, everyone loves them, like Consider Yourself, I’d Do Anything and Oom Pah Pah.

“That’s what really makes a musical what it is. I think this is a show that everyone can relate to in their own way. It deals with domestic violence and unfortunately things like that still happen, the issues in the show can be transferred to any time and still be relevant. It’s a story that relates to any time period.”

Oliver is based on Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens. It was the writer’s second novel and published as a serial between 1837 and 1839.

It was adapted into a musical by Lionel Bart in 1960 and was made into a famous film in 1968. It was noted for its unromantic portrayal of criminals and their sordid lives.

It tells the story of a young orphan boy who is sold as a slave by his workhouse boss to a funeral director, but ends up running away and finds himself with a group of young thieves, including the Artful Dodger, who work as pickpockets for career criminal Fagin. Bill Sikes is a dangerous man in the story, the abusive boyfriend of a main character, Nancy, and a burglar.

Andrew added: “We’ve been rehearsing for a couple of months now and we’re all really excited to get out on the stage and do it in front of an audience. It’s a really feel-good family show and I think everyone who comes along to see it will leave feeling positive.”

The show runs from April 6 to 9 and tickets cost from £9. To book, go to www.tynetheatreandoperahouse.uk or call the box office on 0844 2491 000.