An enginer-turned actor and musician has just landed one of the leading roles in new musicial Bat Out Of Hell.
Rob Fowler, 44, will play Falco in the new theatrical fantasy created by Grammy Award-winning composer, lyricist and music producer Jim Steinman.
The show, which features songs written by Steinman and made famous by American singer Meat Loaf, will be staged in Manchester and London next year.
Rob, who grew up in Morton, near Bourne, will begin rehearsals in the next few weeks and is looking forward to getting started.
He said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity and my family are really proud of me.
“I’ve spent a lot of time working in Europe in recent years but I’m still a Lincolnshire boy at heart.”
Rob was a pupil at the Robert Manning Technology College (now Bourne Academy) and later Stamford College where he studied mechanical engineering.
That was followed by an apprenticeship at Wilson’s of Rippingale before he moved to Perkins Engines in Peterborough and then Hall and Hall in Bourne where he helped to rebuild engines from historic Formula 1 cars.
But in his early twenties, Rob decided to change career when his father Ian sadly died following a battle with cancer.
“I wanted to do acting at school, but I had a fear of people picking on me because of it,” he said. “I would sing at home in my bedroom, but that was it.
“I was 21 when my father died. Just before his 47th birthday he was diagnosed with lymph gland cancer.
“We had three months together as a family before he died. I was with him at the end – he died in my arms.
“It made me realise how short life can be and it was a wake-up call for me to follow my dreams.”
A year after his father’s death, Rob and his family went to London to see Jason Donovan play the lead role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Rob added: “We weren’t really theatre-goers as a family before that point.
“But we laughed and cried and laughed again and loved the show. On the way home on the train we spoke to each properly as a family for the first time in a long while.
“I told my mum I was going to change career and go on stage.”
It was a risky decision for a young man with no formal training in the performing arts, but Rob was determined to make a success of it.
After being told to “put up or shut up” by his brother, Rob auditioned for Much Ado Ron Ron – a musical version of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing – at the Key Theatre in Peterborough.
His raw talent and potential was spotted by director Simon Pearce, theatre boss Derek Killeen and artistic manager Michael Cross.
Rob said: “It was my first proper taste of the business and I loved it. Being around people who lived musical theatre was a transformative experience.”
Rob was later spotted by an agent while performing in a talent show and was put forward for an audition for The Buddy Holly Story, where he had to sing, perform a monologue and play the 12-bar blues on a bass guitar.
He was delighted to win a role in the UK touring production.
“It was just meant to be,” he said. “I’m convinced my dad – and grandfather who died when I was younger – were looking out for me.
“I loved pop music and had ordered Wham’s Greatest Hits, but the shop mistakenly sent me the manuscript for a play about Shakespeare’s lover called The Herbal Bed, which I read.
“When I got to London that show was about to have it’s world premiere at a theatre right next to where I was doing the audition. The timing was perfect.
“Friends from the Key Theatre had helped me learn the bass and I got a part, touring with the show in ‘96/’97.
“That was my schooling – 18 months of work in a top production.”
Rob later secured roles in shows across Europe, performing in Tommy, Footloose and Jesus Christ Superstar to name just a few, before winning rave reviews for his portrayal of DrFrank-n-Furter in Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show.
Away from theatre, he was also frontman of rock band Morton – named after his home town – securing a number of hits in Austria; wrote and performed an original song for the European Handball Federation’s Champions League finals; and appeared on the German version of TV talent show The Voice.
He’s had an amazing career so far, but looks set for even more success with Bat Out of Hell “an epic rock and roll theatrical fantasy” which Jim Steinman has been working on for 40 years and which inspired one of the most iconic albums in history.
Rob has been cast as the “wicked and tyrannical” Falco, who rules the streets of Obsidian, a post-apocalyptic Manhattan.
Directed by Jay Scheib, the show features 17 of Meat Loaf’s biggest hits including I’d Do Anything for Love, Paradise by the Dashboard Light, You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night), Dead Ringer For Love, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad, Bat Out of Hell and three new Jim Steinman originals.
It will play at the Manchester Opera House in February before its world premiere at the London Coliseum from June.
Mum Jennifer, sister Donna and brother Danny are all looking forward to seeing the show.
Rob, who has two children – Ian, 13, and Luna, five – lives in Berlin and is currently single.
He is also working on his own musical, The Boy Next Door, based on a book his friend, Olivier Award-winner Stephen Clark who died recently at the age of 55.
For more information about Bat Out Of Hell, and to book tickets, visit batoutofhellmusical.com