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Disney' s tale as old as time.

Byline: BY PHILIP KEY

AT A height of 6ft 6ins, Nic Greenshields is an imposing-looking actor.

But it does means there are some roles he is unlikely to play.

"There are lots of parts I would like to play but I know I never will," admits the Ilford-born Greenshields.

But if there is one role he was born to play it is the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, the Disney stage musical which arrives at the Liverpool Empire from Tuesday.

"Lots of people think I do the part on stilts or using built-up shoes," he explains. "But I can assure you that it is all me."

That is, all him apart from the Beastly make-up.

"That takes me an hour before each show to apply and when have finished I weigh two stones more. When we have a matinee and an evening show on the same day, I have to do it all over again.

"You see, at the end of the musical I transform into the Prince, without the Beast make-up."

Nevertheless, despite the rigours of the role, Nic is thoroughly enjoying the experience. "It's a great part and I just love it."

It's not the first time he has been at the Empire in the musical but his last appearance was in a very different part, as Gaston the village Lothario who tries his dubious charms on Beauty. "That's an easier costume, of course, and playing an Elvis sort of character.

"With Gaston you are off stage a lot of the time - as the Beast I am on stage most of thetime!" But Greenshields is an actor who is just happy to have been in the show three times to date, always as someone different. He had first joined the internationals cast as the Baker, was to return to tour as Gaston and is now The Beast.

Greenshields first became interested in theatre when as a 10year-old in the school pantomime, he was spotted by an agent who happened to be the mother of one of the other boys. She encouraged him to join the Sylvia Young Theatre School where he did a few television commercials. "But I realised it was not for me."

He went back to proper school, took his A-levels, and for a while worked on a building site.

The lure of theatre proved so much that he auditioned for and got a scholarship to the Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom. Since leaving he has kept pretty busy, a favourite role being Inspector Javert in Les Miserables in London. "I would love to do it again when I'm older, I always thought I was too young for the role at the time."

And height has had some advantages. It won him a role in the musical Lautrec about the tiny French painter. "They managed to find an actor who was 5ft 5ins to play the title role and cast lots of tall people against him to make him look even smaller!"

BEAUTY and the Beast opens at the Liverpool Empire on Tuesday and runs until September 3

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Nic Greenshields in Beauty and the; Beast
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 19, 2005
Words:522
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