Craig Revel Horwood brings Strictly Confidential to Festival Theatre

Craig Revel Horwood. Picture: Comp
Craig Revel Horwood. Picture: Comp
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STARSKY and Hutch certainly had the moves back in the seventies, especially Paul Michael Glaser, who famously leapt, gazelle-like, across the bonnet of their red Ford Gran Torino at the start of every episode. Safe bet, then, that he can dance too.

Or you would hope so, especially as he has just been cast as Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof, which tours to the Festival Theatre later this year.

Director and choreographer Craig Revel Horwood, the man everyone loves to hate on Strictly Come Dancing, laughs when asked about Glaser’s moves - bearing in mind the TV cop is now 70 years old, is he still light on his feet?

“I hope so. I auditioned him over the phone.” quips Horwood. “But I can’t wait. He loves theatre. That’s his thing, and it will be great for audiences to see him replace Topol in that way.”

Glaser is no stranger to Fiddler On The Roof, he was the original Perchik in the movie version.

“That’s really quite amazing when you think about it,” says Horwood, revealing that the musical will feature a cast of 20 actor/musicians. Bearing that in mind, he admits his biggest challenge will be recreating Jerome Robbins’ original choreography faithfully.

“There are limitations... if someone has to do a Russian Cossack dance while playing a saxophone for example, that’s not going to be possible. Otherwise, I’m upholding the original fantastic choreography as it is. Why change something that is amazing?”

That’s all in the future, however, right now Horwood’s focus is on his new dance show, Strictly Confidential, which comes to the Festival Theatre, next week.

Strictly Confidential takes the Strictly Come Dancing concept to the next level. No longer a competition, the show tells a story. Bringing it to life is ex-Emmerdale star Lisa Riley, who tells her own personal story, from soap actress to winning the hearts of the nation on Strictly last year.

Told through music, song and dance routines, Strictly Confidential revives some of the most memorable dances from the series, as well as introducing brand new routines choreographed especially for the tour.

Written and directed by Horwood, the piece offers a sneak-peek into the world of the BBC One prime-time series and gives viewers the chance to get up close and personal with stars of the show.

“The difference between Strictly Confidential and the other theatre shows I have done is that it has a star in it, and that star is Lisa Riley who tells part of her life story.

“There are some intimate moments about her past and her present, and each culminates in a dance routine. It’s not to dissimilar to the musical A Chorus Line, where people step forward and say their age, their weight, their measurements and all that.”

Joining Riley on stage to share their experiences will be dancers Artem Chigvintsev, Natalie Lowe and Ian Waite.

“There are these three pro-dancers from Strictly, they are the support act to Lisa if you like, then we have four other dancers and five actor/singer/musician/dancers who supply all the live music - basically it’s a big autobiographical dance spectacular.”

Looking for something he could take on the road that wouldn’t be just another dance demonstration, Horwood had the idea for the show a couple of years ago.

He explains, “I thought it would be good to introduce a celebrity but didn’t really have anyone. Then, I saw Lisa in the TV series and thought she would be fantastic because she has a great back story. Also, she’s lively, she’s a great actress and she can dance and sing. She sparked my imagination, so I interviewed her and then wrote the show around her.”

The show will, hopes Horwood, continue the popularity of Strictly Come Dancing, which has now been running for a decade.

“Strictly created the dance craze of the last ten years,” he says. “Dance was pretty much off the television map at that point. Its format is now the most produced format in the world - it has gone to 49 countries, which is just amazing.”

Over the years, Horwood himself has become famous for his waspish tongue. Even the press release for Strictly Confidential describes him as the ‘notorious judge’.

“I don’t know about that,” he chuckles. “The audience have made me notorious but I’m just being honest and telling the truth. When I am on the show I put a judge’s hat on.

“I’m not like that in real life, but when I’m judging I take it quiet seriously. People boo me because they don’t want their favourite celebrity told off for doing something wrong, but I don’t care.

“I just have to be honest and tell the audience and the dancers what I see otherwise how are they ever going to improve?”

And if Horwood’s show isn’t a big enough hit of Strictly for you, don’t miss the exhibition of some of Strictly’s most iconic glittery costumes on display before the show.

As the notorious judge might say, ‘FAB-U-LOUS Dahling!’

Strictly Confidential, Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, Tuesday-Thursday, 7.30pm (matinees 2.30pm), £20-£45, 0131-529 6000