The West

Actor s dream time
Brooke Lockett and dancers from The Australian Ballet in Ten's new children's show Once Upon A Dream. Picture: Supplied.

Only a seasoned thespian such as David Wenham could make a seamless transition from murder and drugs to tutus and pirouettes.

The Australian actor is playing lawyer turned criminal Andrew Fraser in Killing Time on Seven. But from Tuesday Wenham will sashay in an unexpected direction, narrating Ten's Once Upon a Dream, a six-part children's documentary about ballet.

"I don't know how many ballet productions Andrew Fraser has seen but maybe he has, he's a man of many talents," he says over the phone from Sydney where he is based with his girlfriend Kate Agnew and their daughters, Eliza and Millie.

The second episode of Killing Time, which previously screened on Foxtel, airs on Sunday and will see Fraser causing a stir at the law firm where his clients now include armed robbers and drug dealers. His reputation begins to spread and he is approached by underworld king, Dennis "Mr Death" Allen.

While the gritty drama was something Wenham enjoyed, the more family-friendly Once Upon a Dream marked a significant milestone in his career.

"Once Upon a Dream came at quite a fortuitous time as only about a week before I was asked, one of my daughters said 'Dad when are you going to do something that we can actually see'," he explains. "So when this came along I thought 'yes, this is something they can watch and it's actually aimed at their age group' so that was really lovely."

With the help of The Australian Ballet and The Australian Ballet School, the show aims to open up the world of dance to young audiences. Once Upon a Dream uncovers the precision, dedication and sweat that goes into becoming a principal dancer and features a number of acclaimed and up-and-coming dancers, including West Australians Kevin Jackson and Cameron Hunter.

To many, Wenham may seem like an odd choice for the role. But as an ambassador for The Australian Ballet's 50th anniversary, he couldn't be a more obvious selection.

"I was asked about a year ago if I would be an ambassador for The Australian Ballet for its 50th anniversary year and I leapt at the opportunity and it came up in discussion of what I could actually do for the ballet during that year," he says.

"They floated the idea that they were doing this series and said 'do you think you'd like to voice it?' And I said 'absolutely'. I love going to the ballet, I love seeing the athleticism and the beauty of the dancers."

His father held a season pass to The Australian Ballet and the young Wenham would attend when his five sisters couldn't go to a show. Ballet then followed him into adult life when he met Agnew, an ex-ballerina.

Now Wenham relishes chauffeuring his daughters, aged three and eight, to and from dance practice every week. "The joy that it brings to the kids, to me that is the greatest joy in my life," he says.

Once Upon a Dream airs on Tuesday at 4pm on Ten.

The West Australian

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