‘It takes two hours just to get my face on every day.
Family must-see show Shrek The Musical is at Manchester until January. Aasma Day talks with Lancashire-born actor Dean Chisnall who stars as the famous green ogre.
When Dean Chisnall hears female friends jokingly talking about how long it takes them to put their face on in the morning, he chuckles and tells them he can beat them hands down.
It takes Dean a staggering two hours to have his “face put on” each day...
But we are talking about the bright green face of Shrek the unlikely swamp hero.
Dean, 32, who was born in Ormskirk and grew up in the village of Newburgh, near Parbold, explains: “Shrek features the most extensive make up in musical history.
“There has never been anything like it in theatre.
“It takes two hours just to get my face on every day.
“Your face feels really weird being covered in silicon and latex.
“Luckily, taking my face off only takes 10 minutes!”
Dean describes his own life and his entrance into the world of acting as a fairytale in itself as he never imagined his dreams would come true.
He says: “I was a bit of a Billy Elliott story really.
“I always enjoyed singing, but when I was younger, there was not much opportunity to do anything with it.
“It is a very different life up North than it is down South when it comes to acting opportunities.
“I lived in a little village and not a city so it was very different.
“I took part in the local pantomime every year, but that’s all I really did.”
The acting bug really consumed Dean when he studied a performing arts A-level at Winstanley College in Wigan and he decided to try to pursue a career in acting.
Dean went to the Arts Educational Drama School in London and, before he knew it, his career had taken off.
Dean says: “I was lucky enough to leave drama school a couple of months early to head into a production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Woman In White.
“I was part of the ensemble and it was fantastic.
“Performing in front of 15,000 people at the West End is what dreams are made of.
“I have been lucky enough to continue to work ever since.”
Dean’s theatre work includes performing in Evita, Love Never Dies and La Cage aux Folles and he also played the part of Gary Barlow in the Take That musical Never Forget.
Dean says: “My life has turned out to be a bit of a fairytale. I never imagined it would turn out like this.
“I pinch myself every day.”
Dean is the only original member from the London Shrek and has now been playing the role for three-and-a-half years.
He says: “I was the understudy for the first year and the year after, I was asked to take over the role.
“That was an incredible moment. It was the best day of my career.
“When you are an understudy, you have to play the part in the same way as the person who normally does the role.
“But when you take over, you can take ownership of the role.”
Shrek has come to Manchester direct from London, where it was seen live by nearly a million people.
Dean isn’t the only member of cast from Lancashire, as Freya Nicholls, nine, from Croston, near Preston, has three parts in the musical.
The youngster, who has been a pupil at Stagecoach Theatre School since the age of five, will be playing the roles of Young Fiona, Young Shrek and Grumpy.
Other cast members include Fayes Brookes as damsel in distress Princess Fiona, Idriss Kargbo as Donkey and Gerard Carey as pint-sized villain Lord Farquaad.
The UK and Ireland tour of Shrek The Musical will be directed by Nigel Harman, who starred as Lord Farquaad in the West End production which won him the 2012 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical.
Shrek is based on the story and characters from William Steig’s book Shrek! and the Oscar winning DreamWorks Animations feature film.
Dean says: “We all saw the Shrek film when it came out and it was a phenomenon.
“Seeing it live is amazing and it is a really feel good show which is funny and great escapism.
“It is brilliant bringing it to Manchester for Christmas and it is a fun show for all the family.”
Dean is particularly enjoying being so close to home while performing as he is usually in London.
He says: “My mum and dad still live in Newburgh. My dad Ian is a retired headteacher and my mum Janis is a property conveyancer. I also have a brother Craig who is a sports journalist.
“I only get Christmas Day off and I will be going to my mum and dad’s.
“It is great to be playing so close to home.
“I am usually used to getting on the M1 and M6 to head home.
“I think Shrek stands out from any other story because it has lots of messages such as the importance of never judging a book by its cover.
“In such an image-obsessed world, it is such a heart warming show.
“It is all about the importance of heart and soul.”
Shrek The Musical will be on at Manchester Palace until Sunday January 11