London stage actor Dean Chisnall is making another curtain call at Steele Canyon High School in Spring Valley, as well as working with Steele Canyon theater and musician students, sharing his professional practices, experiences, and wisdom he has gained in his own career.
This is Chisnall’s third visit to Steele Canyon, starting in 2019 with an invitation from SCHS Musical Director Heather Luck after she saw his performance as Jen Valjean in London. He came and helped with the school’s production of “Les Misérables,” then returned in 2020 to help the students with their production of “Shrek.” Although he was able to spend time with the students and do a special performance for the public in March 2020, as soon as he left, the pandemic shut down the world, and the production for “Shrek” was shut down as well.
But on his return trip May 17-20, Chisnall will continue to mentor Stelle Canyon students, ending with “An Afternoon with London Stage Star Dean Chisnall” on Saturday, May 20, at 2 p.m. at the Steele Canyon High School Theatre with live performances by Chisnall, ensemble performances with the theatre and music students, a Q&A session.
Tickets are $12 reserved online, and $15 general seating at the door. For tickets, visit www.showtix4u.com.
Luck said they were eventually able to perform “Shrek” in 2021, bringing back the students who were supposed to be in that production.
Steele Canyon High School Theatre Director Nicole LaBella said the seniors from 2020, it was a great experience for them and their last measurable performance, was their performance with him on stage. She said he was scheduled to come back last year, but unfortunately got sick on the flight to London to San Diego and took an immediate return trip. When he reached San Diego, he took a COVID-19 test, which came back negative, but still did not want to expose the students. Upon arriving in London, he took another test that came out positive.
“This year, some new events pushed his timeline back a bit as he usually comes in late February, but he and his wife just had a child in November and he wanted a little more time at home,” she said. “We are not actually working on a production per say, but we will have a lot of flexibility with his visit this year, really working with the kids on a variety of things that will not be production related.”
Luck said Chisnall will work with students on more student-driven small performances.
“Whether it is audition material and prep, small ensembles performing together directed by students, just a variety of options for students to participate in,” she said. “Students will get much more one-on-one time and receive feedback. They will audition for him, and his performance will include what students audition with and his performance will include the best students that audition with him and they will be performing with him on his concert day.”
LaBella said they are excited about the Q&A format at the concert.
“We are looking forward to bringing this opportunity back to our students and we are trying to focus on seniors having an opportunity that they obviously missed due to the pandemic and not having him here. They are really excited and are thrilled to have him back,” she said. “This performance is open to the public and it is a unique opportunity to experience something like this.”
In a 2020 interview with the Californian, Chisnall said because his dad was a teacher, it is important for him to give something back, and that he loves sharing his insights of the industry to students.
“Resilience is a really big word in this industry. There’s always a way to land your dreams but you must invest in yourself,” Chisnall said.
Dean Chisnall recently concluded his run as Jean Valjean in the London West End production of “Les Misérables” at the Sondheim Theater and performed the lead role in two separate United Kingdom and Ireland tours. For five years, the actor portrayed Shrek on the West End stage. Other West End and international theater credits include “The Woman in White,” “Never Forget,” “Blood Brothers,” “Mama Mia!” “Evita,” “Cinderella,” and “La Cage aux Folles.” He has a variety of television, recording and concert credits to his name. He serves as Actor-in-Residence at the Charter House School, Godalming, England.