A BRADFORD actor has written a collection of poetry inspired by his experiences of being in West End shows.

Damien Poole’s The Theatre Poet has been praised by actors including Imelda Staunton and Amanda Holden.

The little book is causing a stir on social media, with actress Alice Fearn, who starred in hit musical Wicked, doing a live reading of one of the poems on Instagram. Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden, who met Damien when they were in Shrek the Musical together in the West End, posted a photo of herself with the book. She writes in the foreword: “One Christmas Eve, during Shrek, Damien sat us down and read the most wonderful poem to us during our cast warm-up. He transformed Twas The Night Before Christmas into a hilarious piece of verse that included every one of us, I remember everyone crying with laughter. I’m not sure he knew back then what talent he had in writing poetry.”

Of the new book, she says: “I could see myself in so many of the characters he’d created...stories of backstage, on stage, theatre etiquette, theatre mice. Damien is a storyteller, someone who understands people and emotions, and how theatre catapults those emotions into the spotlight.”

Damien, from Clayton Heights, trained at DM Academy in Shipley and went to Shipley College before heading for drama school in London. His first professional role was in an Alhambra panto and he went on to appear in West End shows, including Grease, Gypsy, Shrek the Musical and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He was a backing singer for Adele at Wembley and has performed with American singer Idina Menzel, who sang Frozen mega hit Let It Go. He’s now the principal of DPTA (Damien Pool Theatre Arts) a musical theatre and dance school in Harrogate.

“Writing poetry was something that found me,” said Damien. “After many years in theatre, I found a love for limericks and rhyme, often writing poems for cast members who were leaving or for opening night cards. These are poems I’ve written over 10 years performing in the West End.”

He credits family friend Mike Priestley, a Telegraph & Argus writer for 40 years, with encouraging him. “It was Mike who persuaded me that the poems were good enough to put into a book. It just took that little push of confidence,” said Damien.

“My mum and dad are so proud - I sent them a copy to ready while they’re in isolation.”

* The Theatre Poet, with illustrations by Mary Warren, is published by Brown Dog Books, available from Amazon and Waterstones.