Ooh la la! A Fylde am-dram actress is to return to the stage – 30 years on from performing as a Bluebell Girl at the world-famous Lido in Paris.
Danell Dearden fondly recalls her days in France as she prepares to take the role of Annie in the Fylde Coast Players’ forthcoming production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Round and Round the Garden at Lowther Pavilion.
“It was a fantastic experience being in Paris in the mid-1980s,” said Danell, who has been director of expressive and performing arts at Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College for the past two decades.
“There were about 40 dancers and we all worked extremely hard with two shows a night generally, and all the quick costume changes involved, but we were very well looked after and our safety was a priority.”
After training at the Whittaker School of Dance and Drama in Blackpool when a teenager, Danell gained a diploma in drama at the Blackpool and The Fylde College with the aim of pursuing an acting career.
But spotting an ad in The Stage newspaper for ‘tall girls’ with some ballet experience changed the course of her life.
“I was quite tall at 5ft 10in so I decided to apply,” said Danell.
After auditioning at the Midland Hotel in Manchester and then in Brighton with the legendary dance agent Peter Baker, she got the job as a Bluebell girl and spent nearly a year in the chorus line at the Lido, before returning to the Fylde where she worked as a dancing and drama therapist in the psychiatric unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
She continued to gain qualifications in her spare time and went to Lancaster University, where she graduated with a degree in theatre studies, followed by a further year completing a teacher training course, which led to the job at the Technology and performing Arts College.
“I only joined Fylde Coast Players a couple of months ago and was surprised – and delighted – to get a part so quickly,” said Danell, who lives in All Saints Road, St Annes, with husband Chris and their two children Callum, 17, and Maisie, 16.
“It’s been a big commitment for me but the rehearsals are great fun and I’m really enjoying working with the cast and especially Rosemary Roe, who is a brilliant director,” added Danell.
Round And Round The Garden is at Lowther Pavilion from July 2-5 and tickets details are available from the box office on (01253) 794221.