Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood has told how he will be ready to “collapse and die on a beach” by February – his first moment of free time after this weekend.
Days before he takes his seat on the judge’s panel of the BBC dance contest’s opening show, Horwood has opened a brand new musical, Son Of A Preacher Man, which he has both choreographed and directed.
He is also beginning rehearsals for his role in the West End production of Annie, which will see him take over the part of devilish orphanage manager, Miss Hannigan.
Speaking about the new musical, which combines dating apps with the music of 1960s legend Dusty Springfield, he told the Press Association: “The whole thing is fully staged with musicians who act, sing, dance and play the music – so there are quadruple threads, but they’ve all come together like an orchestra and hopefully we will entertain people for a long time to come.
“The lyrics are so wonderful to act through, so it lends itself to musical theatre really well.”
With the touring show kicking off this week, he continued: “I will be doing Annie every day except for Saturdays, as I will be on Strictly, then I’m doing panto in Southampton. After Christmas I go on the Strictly live tour, then come the 15th of February I collapse and die somewhere on the beach.”
The passionate performer, 52, admitted that he lent his famous no-frills judging technique to Son Of A Preacher.
“We’ve had our challenges with it, had to change things at the last minute,” he said.
“It was slightly over-written in the beginning so I had to simplify a few things… but we have overcome that now and it’s all rocking along beautifully.”
The cast includes X Factor semi-finalist Diana Vickers, who said: “I grew up listening to (Dusty Springfield). I had to impersonate her once, so immediately when I got the script I felt that connection with her.
“Craig is fabulous and he has been really testing me – I’m not much of a dancer but he’s had me swinging around and lifted and everything.
“If you love Dusty Springfield, if you love a love story, if you want to laugh and be wrapped up in the moment – and see a glimmer of Strictly Come Dancing – then this is the show for you.”
Her co-star and former Coronation Street actress, Debra Stephenson added: “The difficulty for me has been singing and dancing at the same time… I have had the odd occasion doing panto where the dancing fits in with the words, but apparently that’s very simplistic.
“Craig makes things quite complicated – and then he’s always right.”