A former bad boy who spent nearly a decade in care before turning his life around is set to become the villain of the piece again when he takes to the stage in a Doncaster panto.
Stephen Nicholas was expelled more than once from the town’s comprehensive schools during a difficult childhood, which saw him spend nine years in foster care, a children’s home and young offenders’ institution.
But Stephen, who found a way out of his troubles through acting and football, is now set to take centre stage as a baddie in Doncaster Little Theatre’s seasonal show.
He will play evil Uncle Abanazar in the theatre’s production of Aladdin, which gets under way at the King Street theatre today – and admits he is relishing the role.
Stephen, aged 37, said: “I am really looking forward to it and can’t wait to get started.
“I am working with some very talented young actors and is exciting playing to an audience in my home town.”
During his childhood, Stephen found solace from his problems in football, turning out for Doncaster Rovers’ youth team.
From there, he joined London side Millwall – and it was while he was playing in the capital he got a call which would change his life.
“They were looking for some extras to play football in the background of a new football drama,” he said.
“I went along, loved it and thought that acting was something I’d like to get into.”
The show was Sky TV football drama Dream Team and after initially appearing as a non-speaking extra, he took up a full-time role in the show, appearing as character Scott Ward for five years up to 2007.
Stephen, who currently lives in Sheffield, went on to feature in the first of the Goal! movie trilogy and more football acting roles following, including playing Welsh international Alan Durban in The Damned United, the box office smash about Brian Clough’s turbulent and short-lived reign at Leeds United.
He is also set to feature in a football violence drama, I Am Hooligan, which is set to be released next year.
“When I had problems as a teenager, I used to turn to football,” he said.
“In the end it turned my life around through moving me away and giving me a fresh start. I’d say it saved my life.”
Stephen added: “It is the first time I have ever performed in my home town. I have never done panto before so its a massive learning curve too. Stage work is very different from television and I can’t wait to get stuck in.”
The show takes place at 7pm today and tomorrow, 2pm and 5pm on December 19, 7pm from December 21-24, 2pm on December 27, from December 29-30 at 7pm, December 31 at 5pm, January 2 at 2pm and 5pm, January 3 at 2pm and from January 4-7 at 7pm.
n Tickets are available from box office 01302 340422 with further details at www.doncasterlittletheatre.co.uk