DEAN Chisnall admits that having played the most famous ogre in showbiz for five years, he'll have a genuine sense of mourning when the curtain comes down on the final performance of Shrek The Musical in a couple of weeks' time.

"Shrek is a character so close to my heart," he said. "but the shows at the Lowry are the end of the run and that will be it for me."

Based on the hit Dreamworks animation, Shrek The Musical has proved a sensation in London's West End and is now at the Lowry at Salford Quays at the end of a national tour.

"It was such a buzz to be involved with the show at the outset," said Dean, who previously played Gary Barlow in both the West End and on tour in the Take That musical Never Forget, "and five years later I still love it."

One thing Dean won't miss when the show comes to an end is the two hours he has spent every day in make-up to transform himself into the swamp-dweller with a heart.

"Every day I have to put up with the green stuff," he said. "I have to say all that time in make-up isn't my favourite. They use thick film make-up which feels pretty horrible when they put it on and it's even worse when they take it off."

And it's not just the make-up Dean has had to endure for the past five years, there is also the padded Shrek costume.

"The whole thing is quite uncomfortable. It is so hot at times. I usually end up drinking about eight litres of water during the course of a show. I have bottles of the stuff in the wings to drink during scene changes."

Dean also has a make-up artist and his dresser waiting in the wings to regularly apply more of the 'green stuff'.

"Shrek is not like any other part in so many ways," he said. "In some ways I'm working twice as hard as I would in any other musical because I have to tell the story and convey the heart and soul of Shrek so that people are sympathetic to him and do all that while covered in green make-up and in a padded suit."

But Dean wouldn't have changed the last five years for anything and he believes that Lowry audiences are seeing the best version of the musical yet.

"I probably shouldn't say this but I really think the touring show is even better than the one in the West End.

"I think it's developed and is a more English show than when it first started which audiences relate to and little things which we didn't have time to change during the West End run have been introduced for the tour.

"The other thing is that West End audiences are very different from those in the big regional theatres. The reaction we're getting on tour has been amazing, the audiences are just so up for it - they are out of their seats and dancing along from the start."

The plot of the stage show will be familiar to all of have seen the hit movie about the ogre who has to rescue his love, Princess Fiona, from a fire-breathing dragon. Popular characters such as Donkey and diminutive Lord Farquaad are also in the show which is packed with hit songs.

"There are so many positive things about the show," said Dean. "Not only is it fantastic family entertainment there is tremendous spectacle. We have a 30 foot dragon and full West End sets.

"But I also think the show has a real message for today's society where everyone is so image obsessed.

"Shrek's message is that it is OK to be different and that you shouldn't judge someone just on their looks."

For Dean, who was born in Ormskirk, the fact that she show comes to an end at the Lowry is extra special.

"To be having the final performances 'up North' is extra special for me," he said. "It is so close to home which means that loads of my friends and family can come and see it which is a wonderful way to end."

Shrek The Musical also stars Bronte Barbe as Princess Fiona and Idriss Kargho as Shrek's wisecracking sidekick, Donkey.

So what does Dean have planned next?

"A nice long holiday," he said, "I think after five years I've earned it."

Shrek the Musical is at the Lowry, Salford Quays until Saturday, February 20, Details from the box office on 0843 208 6000.