A massive hit with last year's panto crowd at Hall For Cornwall, home-grown actor Dean Nolan will return again to star in Cinderella, this year's spectacular Christmas show.
Last seen busting a mean disco move or two as the charismatic genie of the lamp, Dean is back this time to play Cinderella's best buddy, Buttons.
Naturally he's delighted to be back, not only because he can sleep in his own bed every night, which helps when it's such a gruelling schedule, but also because he's particularly fond of the team at HFC.
"Christmas is all about kids and families and being in panto is fantastic as you get to be part of that," says Dean. "But it's very full-on, with only Christmas Day off – Christmas Eve and Boxing Day are very popular days for whole families as panto is all about celebrating together and a memorable panto can stay with you for a very long time."
Dean says that the Hall For Cornwall experience is particularly special because no two shows are ever the same.
"We're all full-time actors, but not huge stars, which I think works better. We don't come out just for panto, so we're very experienced and we have plenty of touches up our sleeves," he adds. "There are loads of playful moments which can make the show very spontaneous and full of fun. The key is not to do the in-joke stuff and to always take the audience with you."
He's particularly pleased to be working again with Granville Saxton, who was Albenaza in last year's panto.
"He's brilliant, but he's trouble. He's one of those guys – you never quite know what to expect, which is great as you're always kept on your toes!"
Dean first performed on the stage at Hall For Cornwall as a youngster, having started in am-dram in his home village of Probus.
Having grown up on a diet of local musicals and pantos, often cast as the dame, he went to the Hub Theatre School in St Austell, then spent five years with the National Youth Theatre taking part in serious drama including Nicholas Nickelby, Murder in the Cathedral and Hanging Around. One of his most fun and memorable roles among many, however, was as the Fat Controller in the stage show of Thomas the Tank Engine.
"We took it all over the UK and across Australia. They went mad for it over there, it was crazy."
After several years in the capital, he yearned to be back in Cornwall and is now based back in Probus, having fulfilled a life-long dream. "Having grown up watching Kneehigh productions, I finally got to do a show with them – playing Harold Steptoe in Steptoe and Son," he says. He also runs his own theatre company, Trebiggan – "named after a mythical local giant who is rumoured to sweep ships into shore with his long arms" – dedicated to commissioning and developing theatre, film and media that offers a response to Cornish issues.
While you won't see any giants in Hall For Cornwall's panto this year – this is Cinderella, after all, not Jack and the Beanstalk – you will see a pair of wonderfully ugly sisters in the form of previously mentioned Granville Saxton and slapstick favourite Daniel Cane.
Suzanne Ahmet will star as Cinderella, while joining the HFC cast for the first time as the Fairy Godmother will be well-known actress Joanne Munro, who has recently been appearing in Mamma Mia in London. Starring alongside her in the same West End production, handsome Swedish actor Andreas Gyllander will play Prince Charming, while Stuart Maciver, recently seen at HFC in Evita, returns as Dandini with Stan Pretty as Baron Hardup.
Cinderella runs at Hall For Cornwall from Sunday through to January 11.