Welcome to BWW:UK, Dean, and congratulations on the role!
It’s not often that understudies get to step up these days, as you have as cover for Nigel Lindsay...
No, it’s true. At times I lost faith that one day it would happen!
We have to ask first of all about the make-up.
We’ve got it down to one and a quarter hours in make-up now, so I don’t think it’s going to get any quicker than that. It’s incredible - just amazing.
Is it a bit scary, though?
It’s very scary! The first night I went on was bizarre - we had a fire alarm, and then Nigel lost his voice, so I had to go and get the make-up on. You just think you’re going to die! But it’s not oppressive really - it’s designed so brilliantly, it’s just like having something on your face, and you stop noticing it. It’s just different.
What’s Kimberley Walsh like?
She’s the nicest woman you could ever wish to meet - she’s lovely.
And I get the feeling there’s a nice family atmosphere among the company.
Any show has a family atmosphere, but yes, we have a strong teamwork ethic, and because everybody’s so busy - one minute you’re playing a fairy-tale creature and the next you’re playing a soldier - it sounds like a cliche, but it’s a great and supportive team.
Shrek didn’t do so well on Broadway but seems to be doing brilliantly here - why do you think that is?
There’s a charm about the show. I can’t speak for Broadway, as I wasn’t part of it and I didn’t see it, but everyone loves the films, and can relate to it in some part. Who doesn’t enjoy watching a lovable, heroic, big fat green man?
There’s often a bit of criticism about the West End, saying that there’s no originality because shows are being based on already-popular movies.
Getting people into theatres is what’s important. People will come and see this and then go and see other things. I grew up listening to Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera - and I’m dying to do that somewhere down the line - but that’s not all there is. I’m sure there’ll be some new original stories coming in at some point, but at the moment it’s wonderful to be a part of a big film franchise. I’m fairly open-minded about this, really - we all have opinions, and I’m guilty of judging things I didn’t think I’d enjoy. But yes, getting people to go to theatre is what’s most important.
So you’re now leading a West End cast full-time - is that a big responsiblity?
It’s a huge responsibility to take over that baton. But we’ll have fun, and the new guys coming in will add some energy. It’s a big team effort, but I hope I can lead the cast into another good year - we’re all really looking forward to it.