a

Strictly Come Dancing choreographer Matt Flint has brought his magic touch to the Crucible stage for this year’s festive musical.

Set backstage at a US theatre where the cast are rehearsing a musical version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, the comic action involves two troubled couples, a pair of gun-toting gangsters and a bombastic general who wants to marry the leading lady.

Matt, whose dance routines are a highlight of the Crucible show, said he and director Paul Foster had leaned towards the classic version of the show.

“It’s my first time working at the Crucible, so I’m very excited. It’s a show made for the proscenium arch (traditional-style stage) so it’s good to do it on a thrust stage and make it work in the space. You can do nice big dance numbers.”

He added: “The show’s got very different styles, conservative and down dirty and all the different jazz styles of the 1940s and 50s. It’s very exciting for me.”

Matt said he had done a lot of preparatory work before five weeks of rehearsals with the full cast in Sheffield.

“We cast it back in June and I’m thrilled because I’ve managed to get together a really solid group of dancers. The principals can all dance incredibly as well.

“In shows they’re looking for the right characters and all that. Sometimes the dance is the last thing to be thought about.

“In this show you do need the principals to step up and occasionally pull out some moves. You want them to be good, you don’t want to be carrying people.

“The ensemble has one of the big production numbers of musical theatre, nine minutes that goes through all these different styles. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.”

Matt said he’d deliberately kept away from looking back at previous productions: “I  just wanted to come at it from my own thoughts.

“With the music it is so easy for me to see the movement. There is the big band and all the actions of different rhythms. I’m a tap dancer at heart and that was my early inspiration as a choreographer.

“I made a natural transition to choreography in my heart when I was ready to move on. I still dance every day.”

Matt, who won the 2011 series of the BBC show So You Think You can Dance?, has appeared in Matthew Bourne shows Nutcracker and Highland Fling, as well as creating numerous dance roles on TV, film and stage.

Matt has worked on Strictly for six years now, choreographing some of the big group numbers including the celebrities and those created just for the professional dancers.

He said: “It’s such a high-pressure environment. You’ve got to make this thing magic, then it’s on TV.

“The pressure is a completely different kettle of fish working on TV. It’s nice to have the time now (in the theatre).

“I started off doing the group numbers with the professionals. I realised I could handle the celebrities as well and make them do pretty good stuff as well.”

Matt said he is always drawn back to stage work, though.

He added: “It’s the reason I jumped at the chance of doing this. I’m a theatre performer and my heart is in this.”