Matt Perry stepped into the breach to help a Swindon dance school, which lost its leading man just five weeks into rehearsals.

The Estelle School of Dance is presenting Hans Christian Andersen The Musical at the Wyvern Theatre from tomorrow until Saturday.

When the original Hans had to pull out because it had become too much in his already busy life, he recommended Matt as his replacement. The one setback was that Matt was in America, celebrating his 21st birthday.

When he returned he got in touch with principal of the dance school, Pat Bennett, and stepped into the role as if it were made for him.

“He is now really into it and enjoying himself, and he has a lovely voice,’’ said Pat.

Matt, from Ashton Keynes, is off to drama school in London in September.

But her leading man has not been Pat’s only problem. She has been trying for 10 years to win the rights to perform the musical and finally they were granted.

“The only trouble was that when the script arrived it was based on the film with Danny Kaye, rather than the stage version which we were expecting. We performed the stage version 20 years ago so had based our ideas on that,’’ said Pat.

But her company of 70-strong dancers and singers have all pulled together to make the show a success.

The dance school puts on a big show every two years and often finds that whole families become involved in the production in some capacity.

This year is no different with Stuart Benjamin, who recently appeared in the Gondoliers, treading the boards with his son Jordan and daughter Stephanie.

Pat’s own daughter Jennifer Bamford is the musical director and her grand-daughter Alexandra, nine, is also in the junior chorus.

Pat is proud of her students, some of whom go on to make the theatre their career.

Alice Baker, who was Cinderella in her last show has been asked to appear in her second professional panto alongside Julian Clary, in Wolverhampton.

“Her mum is still helping us out as a chaperone this year and Alice came back to wish us luck,’’ said Pat.

The dance school principal chooses a charity to benefit from each show and this year it is the Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

The Wyvern shows start at 7.30pm.

Tickets are £10 and £12 and are available from