Simon plays Ben Weatherstaff/the Lieutenant in our community ensemble production of The Secret Garden, which runs at the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival from Tuesday 11th to Saturday 18th June, inclusive. We caught up with Simon in a break from rehearsals, to ask him about his thoughts on the show…

This OVO community ensemble production gives local talent the opportunity to perform in a professional production at the Roman Theatre. How did you first get into acting yourself?

I started off in school productions: my earliest performance was as Lord Swill when I was 10 years old and my first line was “p…p…p…p-oink”!  Then when I left school I joined the local theatre scene. I helped Adam (Nichols) to launch OVO in 2002, then headed off to drama school as an old man in 2008, and enjoyed some lovely professional work, including a role that got me a solo bow to the 2000 audience members at the Royal Opera House. Most of my theatre work is now as part of the creative team on set design or video projection.

And what do you most enjoy about performing in the Roman Open Air Theatre Festival, or at the Roman Theatre?

Having physically built the stage, the set and the theatre at the Roman Theatre since the start of the Festival, this is only the second time that I have been a performer within a show here. It has always been a magical place to work, and to be able to perform here this year is a real treat.

The story emphasises the beauty and healing power of nature and the outdoors. What’s your favourite way to spend time in nature, and do you have any favourite places around St Albans?

We’re lucky living in St Albans, as you don’t have to walk far to be away from the hubbub of the city centre! Any woodland areas, in Heartwood Forest or up to Ashridge but an early evening walk through Verulamium Park that ends at The Six Bells is hard to beat!

And finally, why would you recommend people see The Secret Garden at the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival?

It is a beautiful story of discovery, friendship and love and as it’s our first production for OVO’s new community ensemble, it’s great to work with all the local talent – both young, or like me: old!

To see Simon and the rest of our wonderful community ensemble cast in action, click on the button below to book tickets for The Secret Garden.