Starting this Friday 10th December, Nigel Clarke will commence his pantomime debut playing Dandini in Cinderella at The Hawth in Crawley, alongside a cast including Scarlett Moffatt, which will run until 2nd January. On screen, Nigel presents The Baby Club on CBeebies and has recently worked on The Night Before Christmas which is soon to be showing on BBC iPlayer, and he also runs his blog/podcast Dadvengers, which supports dads on parenting. As an original cast member of the popular show STOMP, Nigel has travelled over the world, having been involved with the production for a number of years. Recently, Nigel answered our questions about making his pantomime debut as Dandini in Cinderella, presenting The Baby Club on CBeebies and starting Dadvengers.
You are set to play Dandini in The Hawth theatre’s pantomime Cinderella, how familiar are you with the role and how was it getting into character for the first time?
I am not familiar with the role at all, because I haven’t been in panto or seen a panto for years! Working in entertainment, Christmas is a busy time. That said, I am absolutely loving learning about this role.
What are you looking forward to for playing Dandini in Crawley for your pantomime debut?
I am really just looking forward to learning the art of pantomime having never done it. It will be a big learning curve for me, but I love a challenge.
What can audiences expect from your portrayal of the character?
They can expect lots of energy, lots of laughs… all brought with a bit of Nigel flavour!
How do you think you’ll find the experience interacting with families attending the show?
I love interacting with the audience, so panto just feels right. I am looking forward to seeing people’s reactions having had a year away.
Why would you recommend booking tickets to see this year’s pantomime in Crawley?
That is easy! I have literally just walked out of a rehearsal and was blown away by the talent in the cast. Every single member is awesome, and when we all come together something special happens. It will definitely be a show you don’t want to miss.
What’s it like rehearsing for the show and how did it feel finding out you’d be joining the cast?
Rehearsals have been lots of fun, everyone is welcoming and supportive. It already feels like we’ve got a little Christmas family and that is just going to add to the show.
Can you tell us about working on The Baby Club on CBeebies and about the show?
The Baby Club has been going for three years now, and even though it was very popular before lockdown, it became a bit of a lifesaver for many families with newborns during the pandemic. The show has such a simple premise, it’s a wonder it’s not been done before! Our goal was to make people more comfortable about going to baby clubs and I think we have definitely achieved that.
What is your favourite aspect of being involved with CBeebies and what upcoming shows will you be part of?
It is an honour to be working for CBeebies as their productions are always of such a high standard. Recently we have been working on The Night Before Christmas, which is available on the BBC iPlayer (from 11th December). And this has been a really great experience. Performing it in front of audiences after a year away, it was clear to see how this much-loved tradition was missed.
Do you have any stand-out highlights from working on TV over the years?
My favourite thing about working on TV is the fact that no two days are the same. It is hard to pick highlights when they just keep coming, but the CBeebies Prom, and going behind the scenes at Pixar and at Star Wars were all once in a lifetime!
Can you say about Dadvengers and what encouraged you start it?
Dadvengers is a parenting community, blog, podcast and more, all focused on supporting dads on their journey through parenthood. I founded it after working on The Baby Club and realising that there were less resources for dads. The way we parent is changing, and men want and need to be more involved. Hopefully by talking about it and showing dads being more hands-on, will encourage us to be the best parents we can be. If I could get even five of your readers to check out what we do, I believe the butterfly effect of that would create a better place for our children to grow up.
You are a part of the stage show STOMP and performed in the original London cast, what are some of your favourite memories so far?
STOMP took me all over the world and was probably the biggest education of my life. It enabled me to see different countries and cultures, as well as enabling me to perform at incredible events like the World Music Awards, the Royal Variety Performance and the Olympics 2012 Closing Ceremony.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I like to spend time with my family and friends. They inspire and support me but, above all, keep me grounded and are a lot of fun!
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