John is Siked up for stage

John Haydock as Bill Sikes.
John Haydock as Bill Sikes.

For someone with such a strong family link to the stage, John Haydock is something of a late bloomer.

But John is making up for lost time as he prepares to play the role of Bill Sikes in Oliver, coming soon to the Lancaster Grand.

John, 41, is following in the footsteps of his mum Marlene and sister Avril, both accomplished singers in musical theatre.

Twenty four years after his previous stage role as a teenager, John made his comeback in 2011 as King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar at Christ Church, Broadway – and has never looked back.

He reprised the role of Herod when Jesus Christ Superstar came to the Morecambe Winter Gardens in 2013, a week-long run to sold-out crowds in the first musical at the old theatre since it closed in 1977.

He also recently joined After Dark Entertainment’s travelling murder mystery shows, playing roles as diverse as Rene from ‘Allo ‘Allo and Captain von Trapp from The Sound of Music, at venues from Scotland to Southampton.

Now ex-Morecambe High School pupil John, who works in insurance, has the chance to be another iconic baddie.

He will play murderousruffian Bill Sikes as part of the LADOS (Lancaster Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society) interpretation of the Dickens classic.

John is proud to continue his family’s legacy.

“Mum was heavily involved in amateur dramatics locally, especially in Gilbert and Sullivan,” he said.

“She was involved with LADOS and the Morecambe Warblers, and Avril used to sing with her.”

Marlene died in August 2011, at around the same time as Christ Church Broadway Productions brought Jesus Christ Superstar to the stage.

“I’d always wanted to play Herod,” said John.

“I got the part and never expected to. Then we did Joseph the year after and I played Pharoah, and it’s gone on from there.

“Everyone says mum would have been really proud of me.”

Bill Sikes is another role John has always coveted. He’s a jovial fellow in real life but says he relishes playing the villain.

His sidekick Bullseye will be played by an English miniature bull terrier. The dog’s real name is ironically, Sykes!

“He’s exceptionally well trained and placid, and he loves me giving him treats!” said John.

“They say you should never work with children and animals, but I’ve got both, and they’ve been fantastic.

“It’s a great show with a strong cast. It’s a privilege to be part of it.”

Ewan Morrell and Ben Jeffery will share the role of Oliver while Ollie Ip and Ross Dorrington will do the same for the Artful Dodger.

Thirty six local children aged six to 15 are also part of the cast, alongside John Beamer as Fagin, Anna Webster as Nancy and Peter Thompson, who plays Mr Bumble.

The show is co-produced by Suzanne Ward and Sarah Pye.

Oliver runs from May 6 to 10 with performances at 7.15pm, with a matinee show at 2.15pm on Saturday.

Tickets can be purchased from the Grand Theatre Box Office (10am to 3pm) or call 01524 64695.