Cool hand Rob

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A BUDDING thespian looks set for stardom after landing a role in a top West End play – just weeks after graduating from theatre school.

Hartlepool man Rob Falconer will play the part of Bill in the stage version of Cool Hand Luke at the Aldwych Theatre, in London, for a five-month run.

The 22-year-old is also understudy for three of the leading actors so he is tasked with learning four different roles before curtain up in September.

Rob, who also works as a magician, graduated last week from Rose Bruford College, in Sidcup, after a three-year actor musicianship degree.

This will be his first professional job and he is excited about the challenge ahead despite the gruelling rehearsal sessions.

The former Hartlepool Sixth Form College pupil, from the West Park area of town, was chosen for the role after impressing agents and directors during a production at theatre school.

He said: “This is a dream for me.

“I keep having to pinch myself because this is not something I expected to happen so soon.

“I only have a small role, but I am understudy for three of the leading characters so I have four parts to learn which is really daunting.

“I am really excited, but I have to be realistic because it will be hard work.”

He added that his friends and family are all proud of him and there was a double celebration as his flat mate and best friend in London, Joey Hickman, 22, has also landed a role in Dreamboats and Petticoats.

He added: “Everybody is really happy that the last three years of working 9am to 9pm days has paid off.

“The rehearsals start on August 22 and they will probably be 12-15 hour days, seven days a week, so I have a lot of hard work ahead of me.”

Hustle and Mad Dogs star Marc Warren plays the lead in the stage production of Cool Hand Luke, which is based on Donn Pearce’s acclaimed novel.

Directed by Andrew Loudon, it tells the story of charismatic rebel Luke, a prisoner in a Florida prison camp who refuses to submit to the system.

Rob’s character Bill takes on Luke at a game of cards in the production, which was also a hit on the big screen starring Paul Newman.

He also has to learn the parts of Curly, Rabbit and Society Red.

Rob added: “My message to anybody thinking about a career on stage would be to just go for it.

“It is not easy and you have to be committed but the rewards are huge.”

Vicky Jackson, head of performing arts at the Sixth Form College, said: “Rob was always very passionate and enthusiastic.

“You could always tell he was destined for bigger and better things and we are all very proud of him.”

Previews of Cool Hand Luke will be held from September 19 and the show runs six days a week until January 7.

To book tickets to see Rob in action log onto http://aldwych-theatre.co.uk/