Craig Revel Horwood on directing Strictly Ballroom: The Musical

Virgin Radio

23 Jun 2022, 10:53

Chris Evans and Craig Revel Horwood at Virgin Radio

Strictly Come Dancing star Craig Revel Horwood joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about directing Strictly Ballroom: The Musical.

Based on the award-winning worldwide film phenomenon, Strictly Ballroom: The Musical is touring the UK from September 2022 until July 2023. Craig told Chris: “It’s based on Baz Luhrmann’s film, which was in 1992. That seems like yesterday to me. I was in Miss Saigon at the time. I remember it.”

Speaking of the influence of the movie on his life, Craig said: “It’s been part of my Christmas, I’ve got to admit, for the last 20 years, actually. I watch it every Christmas because I love it, and it just reminds me of home, and now I’ve got the opportunity to direct and choreograph with Jason Gilkison, who does all the lead choreography on Strictly Come dancing, the TV show. And of course, Strictly Come Dancing got its name - Strictly - from Strictly Ballroom the movie. And now it’s a musical.”

Explaining why the film reminds him of home, Craig said: “I was born in Ballarat in Australia, which is near Melbourne, if people don’t know. It’s an old gold mining city. I was born there. Obviously I spent my whole life until I was 23 there, and when I was 23 I decided to don a G-string and a feather head-dress and go to the Lido de Paris on the Champs-Élysées in Paris because I thought, ‘Well, 23, I’ve got a great body. This isn’t going to last forever,’ and I thought, ‘Well, I may as well show it off in Paris.’

“And then I got Cats, and that got me to London, and then Miss Saigon, and the rest is histoire, as they say.”

The new musical version of Strictly Ballroom, directed by Craig, features former Strictly Come Dancing star Kevin Clifton, and Maisie Smith from EastEnders! It includes smash-hit songs Love is in the Air, Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps and Time After Time, with all new music written by the likes of Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect. 

The show follows arrogant, rebellious young ballroom dancer Scott Hastings (Kevin). When his radical and daring dance style sees him fall out of favour with the Australian Federation, he must dance with beginner Fran (Maisie). Speaking about Kevin, the director said: “He’s great. He’s been waiting for this, not just for the last two years, but all of his life and he does the best Australian accent I’ve ever heard. I mean he sounds true blue, really.”

And about Kevin’s co-star, Craig said: “I think it’s also going to be also great for people to hear Maisie sing, and Kevin sing, because they’ve got great voices.”

Speaking more about what theatre-goers can expect, its director explained: “It’s funny. It’s also full of characters that are bitter, twisted, selfish, dark, nasty, nasty people, and I can associate with that darling! But what I love about Strictly Ballroom: The Musical is you see backstage. It’s about the backstage, all the stuff you don’t see on Strictly Come Dancing. On Strictly Come Dancing, you see the gloss, you see the shine, you see the smiles. You don’t see, actually, what’s happening completely backstage, and Strictly Ballroom goes to that sort of dark, sinister, fantastic place, and these characters, as I say, are so selfish and out for themselves.

“And that’s, I think, what makes the comedy so brilliant, and it’s an insight into the real competitive world of ballroom, which I think is going to be great for people to see."

He added: “You only have to watch the film to see it’s fun as well. It’s a comedy essentially, but that comedy comes from a very dark, sinister, place.”

Craig last joined Chris on the show in January to talk about his All Balls & Glitter Tour which ended on 27th May. Looking back at the tour, he said: “I loved it, and I’m going to bring it out again, because I never got to Scotland and I would have liked to do it up in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, all of those places.” 

The Strictly judge is also joining the star-studded line up for the hit Channel 4 show Celebrity Gogglebox.

Strictly Ballroom: The Musical UK & Ireland Tour runs from 26th September 2022 to 15th July 2023. Tickets are available at:

For more great interviews listen to  The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or  catch up on-demand here.