A FORMER soap star is leaving his dramatic roots behind as he appears in an entertaining new comedy taking to the stage in Stoke.
Don Gilet, better known as EastEnders evil Lucas Johnson, is set to show audiences his comic side as he stars as three very different characters in the hit show Bouncers, set to be performed at the Regent Theatre from Wednesday to Saturday next week.
Speaking to the Mail, the 44-year-old revealed he is enjoying the challenges the play brings.
Gilet said: “It is going really well, we are more than half way through now with only three venues left to do. Up until this point the response has been brilliant which is how we know it is going so well.
“I did get a little apprehensive before the show started. As an actor you have to be consistent and is it physically demanding but more mentally, as it is like stepping onto a rollercoaster.
“It needs to be performed with precision as if your concentration lapses the audience may not notice but we will know.
“I am looking forward to bringing the show to any place as each performance brings its own audience — which has a new feeling and energy.
“You do not know how it is going to be at each performance. It is always exciting to come to a new town.
“Comedy has always been my first love and I love the medium of stage.”
The popular actor, who has also appeared in Babyfather and 55 Degrees North, plays Les the bouncer who he describes as a jovial character who likes a joke but is a formidable guy not to be messed with.
His second character is Rosie who is cute and dizzy and the third is Kev, one of the lads who becomes more intoxicated as the night goes on.
He said: “It takes a bit of imagination and memory to play a drunk person. We see it all around us — people worse for wear — so it is not difficult to play. We have all been there, that’s all the fun.
“The show is 30-odd years old and I have seen it a few times over the years and had friends in it. It is a great play to be in and requires more precision timing and rhythm than a normal play.
“From an audience point of view they are not coming to see a normal play and it reaches out to different types of people, covering all the classes. We all identify with youth and the hedonistic lifestyle.”
Gilet is joined by a host of soap stars including Ace Bhatti, EastEnders’ Dr Evil Yusef Khan, Ian Redding, EastEnders’ Tricky Dicky and Coronation Street’s Vernon Tomlin, and William Illkley, of Hollyoaks, Holby City and The Royal.
Speaking of his fellow actors, he said: “We are all very different people and I have never worked with any of them before. When you work on a show together you have to focus the energy into one. If I got the opportunity to work with any of them again I would jump at the chance.”
Having worked on both the stage and screen, Gilet said the main difference was the control actors have with a stage performance.
“The main difference for me, and other actors will say the same, is that you are in control on the stage and the whole product as they are not going to edit the best bits,” he said. “The whole two-hour experience is down to us.
“In television and film you have several takes of the same scene and other people above you select which takes they think is best.”
Speaking of his time on EastEnders and not ruling out a return, Gilet said: “I loved it, most actors will tell you they love to play more complex characters.
“They just have all this stuff going on inside of them and demons they are dealing with and you know at some point it is going to take over them. It is a case of when is the dark side going to come out.
“I loved to show that inbalances, it is exciting as in each episode it is a case of which side is going to take over, the dark side or the humane? People have to make decisions daily and keep a lid on any of dark feelings.
“In soaps characters cannot always do that and that part takes over them.
“I want to keep working and having new experiences and it would still be a new experience going back to a role.
“The character would have to be different as it cannot just be more of the same. I would never rule out anything out as I had a really good time on EastEnders. I would have to believe in the reason for Lucas returning.”
Since leaving the BBC soap two years ago, Gilet has been busy in pantomimes, television shows and working extensively with the BBC Radio Drama Company.
Speaking of the future after the tour has finished, he said: “Who knows, nothing is set in stone. I have been working a lot with the BBC doing things like children’s show Aliens and Wizards and a show called Father Brown.
“I could do more on radio or maybe in a movie. I want to continue to be creatively stimulated.”