London, March 27 : Rowan Atkinson has signed on to portray Fagin in the upcoming West End stage production of 'Oliver!', the musical that opens at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in December.
Expressing what it felt to bag the role, the 53-year-old 'Blackadder' star said that it was like achieving a long-held ambition.
"In the 1980s I enjoyed doing a lot of West End theatre and since then have been distracted very much by Mr Bean and film-making," the BBC quoted him as saying.
"I had been thinking for some time about returning to the stage and the idea of the role of Fagin, which has long intrigued me. Some time ago I even played the role in a school production (so it) seemed like too good an opportunity to miss," he added.
Sir Cameron Mackintosh, who is producing the Lionel Bart musical, has revealed that as many as 100 actors will star in it.
He says that he had been holding "on and off" in discussions with Atkinson for many years.
"To me this idea has always promised the perfect marriage of a brilliant mercurial role with a brilliant mercurial comic actor," he said.
The 1994 London Palladium production of 'Oliver!' played 1,366 performances over three years, and made more than 40million pounds at the box office.