Q & A with Dean Chisnall (Shrek) and Carley Stensen (Princess Fiona)

Posted on 7 September 2012

 Shrek is the must see musical at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and here is our exclusive interview with it's two stars, Dean Chisnall and Carley Stensen.

- So we imagine larking around onstage in an upbeat musical playing characters that most of the audience already love when they walk into the theatre is a pretty cool gig, right?
Dean: Larking around?!  How dare you!  Haha... The show is such fun to do and it helps that the whole world knows the wonderful Ogre himself.  So yes, more than cool.  
- Were you fans of the film series before you started in the show? Had you caught the stageshow?  
Dean: I've never met anyone who doesn't LOVE the films.  They are amazing.
When I heard that 'Shrek The Musical' was coming to town, I immediately knew I wanted to be involved.  I'm a very lucky boy.  I had never seen the stage show before...  I'm glad, it gave me a totally fresh outlook when we started rehearsals.

Carley: I was a big fan of the films and really liked the musical before I got the chance to play Princess Fiona. I love it even more now that my nieces and nephews are always watching the DVDs. 
- Did any of your predecessors give you tips when taking over their roles? 

Carley: Kimberley Walsh was wonderful - giving me lots of advice and asking if I would like to shadow her one night to see how it all worked backstage.

Dean: I was fortunate enough to understudy the part of 'Shrek' before I took over in February, so I knew what I was in for. Sweat and heat mainly!!!
- One of the great things about the production is that although the story is geared towards children there are references and jokes aimed squarely at adults too.    Would you agree this helps with its cross-generational appeal? 
Dean: Totally and utterly agree.  The real triumph of the show is that it caters for everyone and every taste.  Many of my friends simply can't believe how it entertains the adults just as much as the kids.  Most of my adult friends are classed as big kids though!  
- Carley you're in the show hot on the heels of an extremely well-received turn as eternally upbeat yet not-to-be-messed-with Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.  Princess Fiona also has a fair bit of sass.  Are you naturally drawn to these spunky female roles? 
Carley: I love strong female characters! I find them an inspiration and wouldn't want to be any different, or send out any other message to young girls. But there are many great female characters out there with completely different personalities that would also be a great challenge to crack. 
- Dean, how long does the it take to get into Shrek's costume and makeup for
each performance?  Are you ever tempted not to bother to take it off on matinee days? 
Dean: The make up alone takes an hour and a half.  The costume takes 20 minutes so we're talking about two hours preparation before I've even walked on stage...  When it's VERY hot, it can be a struggle to deal with the heat, but if I did take it off, I'd be in a lot of trouble! 
- Dean, you've been in the show since the beginning and took over as Shrek in February. Richard Blackwood has been filling Donkey's horseshoes since
the show opened in June last year. Has the line between Blackwood and Donkey started to blur in real life now? 
Dean: It's been an unbelievable 18 months of my life so far.  To be a part of this special experience from day one has blown me away.  Getting to play Shrek has just made it even better.  I'm so grateful to all involved for the faith they have put in me...  As for Donkey Blackwood, erm I mean Richard Blackwood...You'd have to ask him but I have caught him eating hay a few times so maybe that answers your question???!! 
- Carley you are probably best known for your decade-long run as Steph Dean in Hollyoaks. Would you consider another soap role in the future or is ten years enough?
Carley: I wouldn't say no to doing soaps again, but the character would have to be the deciding point. I want to play brilliant roles regardless of what format they are in. TV stage or film. So keeping all fingers crossed! 

- Shrek's home, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane is really quite a magnificent venue, isn't it? 
Carley: I love Drury Lane -  it's magnificent and I pinch myself every time I walk in as it truly is the most beautiful historic theatre. 
Dean: I left ArtsEd 7 and a half years ago but long before that I dreamt of working at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.  That is the truth... To be playing the lead in this quite sensational and historic venue is more than a dream. 
- Can you sum up the show's appeal in three words? 
Carley: Energetic, fun and captivating.

Dean: Heartwarming, Spectacular, Hilarious