So the second instalment in the Have You Met series is current West End performer Dan Cooke. Dan is currently appearing in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which is at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
So Tell us, What’s your name and where do you come from? And where do you live now?
My name’s Dan Cooke and I’m from Brighton but right now I live in Barnet, North London.
Tell us what you do/ who you are?
So I’m predominately a musical theatre performer, currently working in a show in the West End called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as an Oompa Loompa (Ensemble). But I also work in other areas of the industry like tv and film, commercials and teaching.
So what’s a typical day in the life of Dan Like?
Well I really struggle to get up in the mornings so I make a point of setting my alarm ‘early’ (9:30am) – that’s early considering I don’t get home till after 11pm. Most of the week I only have one show in the evening so I’m pretty free to do whatever I like, boring house chores or meeting up with friends, going to class or just catching up on tv.
I really enjoy cooking so I like to make my dinner for the evening and take it to work with me. I also like to have something to do on the tube ride like reading a book or playing sudoku – I’m so rock’n’roll these days.
Any fun nicknames you would like the readers to call you by?
I have a couple of nicknames that my friends call me… Cookie, The Ginger Fox and Ginger Boy!
So did you go to a theatre college, if so which one and would you recommend going to a theatre college?
I went to a theatre college called Performers, based in Essex. I would highly recommend anyone who is serious about performing to go to a good, accredited college with good contacts within the industry for when you graduate.
Tell us some myths about the industry? Is it all glitz and glam?
Ha! God no, I mean yes you have a dressing room with loads of lights around it and you get your hair and makeup done for you (if you’re a principal). You might even meet celebrities and go to prestigious events, but the reality is London is overrun with rodents and it’s not uncommon for you to see a mouse or two in the theatre. If you’re really lucky they’ll come out when you’re taking a nap between shows and crawl up your leg.
What’s your worst and/or best audition?
Well I’ve had a good old mix of both. The best auditions are the ones you come out of buzzing cause you feel like you’ve nailed it, It’s a great feeling. Some of the worst are when people aren’t kind or the audition isn’t quite what you expected. But that’s only happened to me a couple of times where it’s so awful I just want to leave.
So you are currently appearing in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, tell us a bit more about your journey to get here.
I think the important thing is everyone’s journey is different. For some they get West End straight out of college, for others it’s a waiting game. My journey started on tour with High School Musical which was an incredible first job. I then toured with a few other shows (High School Musical 2, Tap Dance Fever & We Will Rock You) I also did an opera at the London Colosseum and the Closing Ceremony for the London Olympics. I’ve also done TV and film bits and bobs – I was a ginger Eskimo in the Aldi Christmas Advert last year. So it took me a good 7 years to ‘make it’ to the West End.
What are the perks of being on Tour?
Cheap drinks and shopping. Especially up north.
What did little Dan want to do when he ‘grew up’?
I always knew I wanted to dance, it has always been my biggest passion, but I also recall wanting to be a vet when I was around that age.
Tell us something fun about the city you live in?
I really love all the different ‘pop ups’ we get in town. Mainly the food ones – I love food.
What is success to you?
Success is on different levels for me. In my personal life I feel very fortunate and successful. In my career, though I recognise my successes and how fortunate I am, I still feel I haven’t achieved all I set out to do yet. So I guess until I achieve these goals I wouldn’t call myself successful- (am I being too harsh on myself?)
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In a gorgeous house with my partner, two boys and a dog, and hopefully able to call myself ‘successful’ ha!
Any words of wisdom for aspiring performers. ?
Work hard, play hard, work even harder. That was the advice I was given on my first job, which I think sums up the industry perfectly. You work hard but it’s also important to keep good relationships with the people in the industry. Also don’t take yourself too seriously 🙂
You can follow Dan on Twitter @Dan_Cookie and Instagram@dan_cooke