Craig Revel Horwood on bringing Strictly Ballroom to a Peterborough theatre

Instantly recognisable as a long-standing judge on TV’s Strictly Come Dancing, Craig Revel Horwood returns to his first love – musical theatre – in Peterborough later this year.

By Brad Barnes
Sunday, 17th July 2022, 12:00 am
Craig Revel Horwood
Craig Revel Horwood

Craig is directing and co-choreographing Strictly Ballroom The Musical, which is coming to the New Theatre from November 28 to December 3, starring Kevin Clifton and Maisie Smith.

“I was meant to have done it two years ago then Covid struck and we decided for all parties to leave it for two years - and thank goodness we did,” said Craig. “And the beauty of that is that Maisie is also available and I am delighted about that."

The former Eastenders actress gained recognition for her dancing appearing in a 2019 charity edition of Strictly Come Dancing.

Strictly Ballroom directed by Craig Revel-Horwood comes to Peterborough in November

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    “At the time I was amazed she could dance as well as she could,” Craig admitted. “She then had the series in 2020 where she got to final and came on the live arena tour, which I directed, and had the experience of that. I think, put all that together she is absolutely ready, she is just a super quick learner. And she is playing Fran, a character who is a beginner dancer, so the challenge for her is to pretend that she can't dance.”

    For her co-star though it has been a frustrating time, as Craig explained. “We already had Kevin Clifton on board, he had left Strictly Come Dancing to come and do the show and play his dream role.

    “Kevin was 10 when the movie came out and he has dreamt of playing Scott Hastings (lead character). He was super-excited and then Covid struck and he has had to wait another two years.

    “But he is spectacular, and as soon as I saw his audition I was won over. I mean, literally, it is as though the show was written for him.”

    Craig has been involved in getting the production on stage in this country for four years but says he was in love with Baz Luhrmann’s original stage version, a play, when he saw it in 1992 – nine years before the smash hit film version was made.

    “It is just a fantastic story and the fact that I am from Australia and working with an Australian choreographer Jason Gilkison, who does choreography on Strictly Come Dancing, so people will know his work even if they don't recognise his name. We are co-choreographing it and that is going to be fantastic.”

    So what was it then about the film that Craig likes so much?

    “It just shows what life was like for ballroom and Latin dancers back in the 90s,” he points out. “Obviously we have been super exposed to it with Strictly Come Dancing all over the world so a lot of people know about ballroom now. But it was a sort of insular, clique environment – which is where all these wonderful characters come from in the movie. So we are keeping the musical the same as the film.”

    And the music is important too – Love Is In The Air, Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps and Time After Time from the film are used as well as songs specially written for this stage version, something Craig is looking forward to introducing to a new audience.

    He adds: “Expect all of that gloss from Strictly with the back stage drama. It will be really great fun. It is a comedy and an uplifting show and people will come out of the theatre singing and dancing.”