With his quick wit and sunny smile, few could deny that Anton Du Beke is among Strictly Come Dancing’s most charismatic performers.
This was probably a major reason why the first night of his latest tour, Ballroom To Broadway, was greeted with a packed crowd at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate yesterday.
The tour will continue with another night in Northampton this evening and I would thoroughly recommend that anyone who has the chance to buy a ticket, takes the opportunity to visit the show.
As a big fan of Erin Boag, Anton’s usual dance partner, who is not taking part in this year’s tour due to pregnancy, I was a little nervous as to how this would turn out.
But, as well as Anton’s light-footed dance talent, there was also a core group of quality performers to give the show a varied feel. This cast included a full orchestra as well as West End star Summer Strallen, singer Lance Ellington and Burn The Floor dancer Faye Huddleston.
I had not seen much of Summer Strallen’s work before. I knew her solely as a former Hollyoaks actress hailing from a time when I had to turn the programme off due to its terrible acting.
But Summer has clearly come a long way since then. In every number in which she was involved, she completely lit up the stage. She seemed to have an extraordinary ability to combine complex dance steps while simultaneously belting out a song.
One highlight for me had to be the ‘Chicago’ scene in which she sang All That Jazz while carrying out very ambitious dance moves. Her lift on the shoulders of three male dancers, in which she threw herself upside down while holding a splits position was truly amazing.
Her vocal performances, unsurprisingly (given her West End CV), were top quality and she had a commanding presence on stage reminiscent of a 1940s film star such as Judy Garland or Ginger Rogers.
Meanwhile, Anton certainly did not disappoint, with a string of elegant performances which left the audience wanting more. One highlight was a routine carried out with Faye Huddleston to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Music Of The Night. This gave a wonderful contrast to the prevalently upbeat tone of the show.
As ever, Anton’s question and answer session with the audience left everyone laughing. This was helped along by Erin Boag’s presence in the audience as he tried to recall a particularly funny story about their joint baby-sitting experience.
Anton always seems to start his tour in January and it really helps to brighten up a rather dreary month. The show comes highly recommended. See www.royalandderngate.co.uk
The king of ballroom will be performing in his new show Ballroom to Broadway - a trip of treats celebrating the golden sound of musicals
You’ve been nominated for four Olivier Awards, but haven’t yet won. Is it a case of ‘always the bridesmaid’?
No – it’s so cool to have been nominated! I look on the Oliviers as a chance to dress up in a gown and go along with my boyfriend [actor Oliver Walker] and meet some wonderful people.
Your three sisters all act, too. Are you competitive?
Not really, because we’re all quite different. What’s great is that we each know what the other is going through at any time. We do put pressure on ourselves but even if you’re thinking, ‘I should be doing what she’s doing’, another sister will say, ‘Don’t worry; you’re doing fine as you are.’
Would you ever work together as a family?
We’d absolutely love to once we’ve all established ourselves in our own way. We’d be so excited that there would need to be some serious yoga and meditation beforehand to calm us down or it’d be chaos!
Would you be interested in a role in the film version of Cats?
Oh my goodness, absolutely! My aunt Bonnie Langford was in the original cast and my parents were also in it, so it holds a lot of memories. I would jump at the chance.
What was starring in Hollyoaks like?
It was a publicity stunt for my role in The Sound of Music at the London Palladium in 2008. My character won the part of Maria just as I was going into the real production. Andrew Lloyd Webber dreamed up the idea with [Hollyoaks executive producer] Tony Wood over a boozy lunch.
Would you do another soap?
I don’t think so – I’ve ticked that one off my bucket list now. I like to have a different experience with each role, to learn as much as I can. So to do something like Downton Abbey would be amazing – so different from my role in Land Girls.
What do you think of musical reality shows?
When I was younger, I felt a little threatened by them. But the thing about those shows, especially Andrew Lloyd Webber’s, is that they bring a new audience to the theatre, which can only be a good thing.
What is next for you?
I’m going on tour with [Strictly Come Dancing star] Anton Du Beke. There’s a 50-piece orchestra, and lots of sequins and feathers. It’s basically Strictly on stage – very glamorous.
What was your career plan B?
I think at about six years old I briefly wanted to be a vet, but then I saw a farmer with his hand up a cow’s backside and realised it wasn’t for me. I can’t see me doing anything else really. If I can make somebody laugh, cry or smile then that’s a pretty nice way to make a living.
Who are your favourite dancers of all time?
Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse.
Do you have any superstitions?
I used to go to the loo at half past the hour, then put my wig on 15 minutes before my curtain call. I’d see a magpie and worry I was going to have a bad performance – that type of thing. But it traps you, being like that. I prefer to keep it free and easy these days.
What’s your New Year’s resolution?
To try to enjoy every single day.
BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing ballroom favourite, Anton du Beke heads to Guildford in a brand new show, Ballroom to Broadway
Join one of the UK’s favourite ballroom dancers, Anton du Beke, as he trips the light fantastic in a brand new show, Ballroom to Broadway, at G Live, in Guildford, on Saturday January 18.
With special guest Summer Strallen, the show will feature classic dances with sensational new choreography, timeless tunes and strictly dazzling costumes that will conjure up the elegance of ballroom at its best as well as the razzle dazzle of Broadway.
This dynamic duo will bring together the toe-tapping tunes of Broadway and ballroom such as You’re the Top, Anything Goes, Opus One, Rhythm of Life, Hushabye Mountain and Begin the Beguine.
Joining Anton will be world-class ensemble dancers, featuring Faye Huddleston, and the Raymond Gubbay Big Band Orchestra to add a touch of sparkle to your January.
Best-known for starring in BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing, Anton Du Beke has made ballroom queens of celebrities Lesley Garrett CBE, Esther Rantzen OBE, Patsy Palmer, Jan Ravens, Kate Garraway, Gillian Taylforth, Laila Rouass, Ann Widdecombe, Nancy Dell’Olio, Jerry Hall and Fiona Fullerton on the hit TV series.
Witty, charismatic and a natural entertainer, Anton’s skills in front of an audience extend far beyond his exceptional ballroom talent.
Performances start at 3pm and 7.30pm and tickets cost £39.50 and £46 (booking fees apply).
Call 0844 7701 797 (10am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday) or visit www.glive.co.uk to book.