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There aren't many things that Dane Bowers hasn't done, from singing to DJ'ing to starring in television programmes. But pantomime is a world that he is about to place a great focus upon as he performs in the role of Captain Hook in Peter Pan at the Epstein Theatre for the Christmas and New Year season. We spoke to Dane about the show, his career so far and why this production will take pantomime to - yes! - Another Level.
Firstly, tell us about your character in Peter Pan.
I'm playing Captain Hook, which I'm looking forward to. I haven't decided what kind of Hook I'm going to be yet, as there have been loads of Peter Pan films. With me, you can't really beat Hook, which starred Dustin Hoffman as Hook. So, I think that's where I'm going to get my inspiration from.
Will this mark your debut in pantomime?
No, I've done one before. I did a panto in Northwich a few years ago, where I was Prince Charming in Cinderella. So, I'm really looking forward to being a baddie, as you can have a lot of fun with it.
You're best known for being a part of the band Another Level. How did the formation of the group come about?
We actually went to a performing art's school. Two of us did, anyway; I went to The Brit School. And I didn't really sing; drama was what I did. Singing was something that I knew I could do, but it wasn't something that I really concentrated on. So I was lucky that I fell into it with another guy, Wayne (Williams), who had already met up with record labels. They asked me to be a part of this project, and it was the greatest choice that I ever made, I guess (laughs).
What would you consider to have been your favourite songs from Another Level?
Freak Me was obviously a big one because it was #1, and it was the song that people would look at now. But people forget that Be Alone No More was our first ever single. Jay-Z was on that tune, which at the time was phenomenal. We worked with Wu-Tang; I did a really good song which I loved with Calised, which was for Phil Collins' album that everybody did. It was us, Brandy and Lil Kim, so that was a good song. There's been some good ones, but Freak Me is hard to top.
Another Level reunited for The Big Reunion, but you chose not to participate, later becoming part of the 5th Story group which brought together multiple soloists. Tell us why you chose to go down this route rather than reforming the original band?
We were going to do Another Level, but two of the guys were um'ing and ah'ing about it anyway. At the time, Mark (Baron) was married to Louise Sugar, and worked for Alan Sugar, so for him to get that amount of time off would have been difficult, and one of the other guys lived in New York. They'd been asking us to do it for years, and we were close, but we just couldn't do it. So then the show (producers) asked me to be involved in this other group (5th Story). I'd done something like that before, but I knew the other people in it so I thought it'd be good fun, so I just said "Yes, let's do it".
Do you still keep in touch with the band members now?
I haven't for a while, actually. We're all pretty good friends, though. I saw Bradley not too long ago, though I don't think he was in that one (laughs). As I say, I'd been in another one for MTV before 5th Story. I'm still good friends with Gareth Gates; he's a good lad, and funnily enough he's the biggest p*ss-head on the whole show, so that's always fun! I haven't seen the others in a while, to be honest. We do get on, though; I'm in Dubai a lot at the moment so it's hard to catch up with them at the moment.
What plans do you have for the future?
As I say, I'm in Dubai; I have a TV production that I'm working on there. It's a show called Come Dine Dubai which is me going to different restaurants there and cooking with the head chefs, so that's looking good. I still DJ too; I'm gonna get some DJ gigs while I'm up here in Liverpool to keep that going. Apart from that, though, I can never decide what I want to do!
Finally, tell us why people should see Peter Pan.
I was saying before that for me, pantomime is a great institution in England; I think that every kid should go and watch panto. You need to get them away from the computer and to come and watch it. It's great for the adults too as well; Michael Chapman, who is writing the script, is very close to the lines so there'll be a lot of adult humour. So if you bring your kids, you're still going to enjoy it. Plus it's Peter Pan, which is going to be very different for a panto. We've all seen Cinderella and Snow White shows which are amazing, but Peter Pan is going to be special.
Peter Pan will head into the Epstein Theatre from Friday December 8 to Monday January 1 2018. To book your tickets, click here.