John said: “We can’t wait to come to Sheffield. It will be our final destination of this glorious 13-week tour.
“It was a play that was adapted from a French play called Castles in the Sky and the musical Anything Goes was adapted from the same source.
“If you’re a fan of Tom Stoppard, this is an undiscovered Stoppard in a way, it’s not been performed very often. It was done in 1984 at the National Theatre and toured in 1987 in the UK.
“If you’re a fan of his work, this is an opportunity to see one of his plays that’s not performed very often. If you are not familiar with his work, it’s a bit lighter than his other plays.”
John continued: “He’s the ultimate wordsmith and one of the greatest playwrights of the last 80 years. He won an Oscar with Shakespeare in Love.”
The show’s had the Stoppard seal of approval, said John. “Tom came to see us when we were in Brighton and it was a great honour to play for the playwright and slightly nerve-wracking.
“What a gracious man. We want out for high tea after the play and it was one of those dream moments of your career. It was a real highlight for all of the company. He was thrilled with us and it and it doesn’t get better than that.”
John said that the show is very funny, with lots of physical comedy, and the humour is absurd and almost Monty Python-like.
The play is set aboard a transatlantic liner to New York, where a theatre team have four days to complete their musical comedy while on some rough seas.
Audiences have really enjoyed the show, said John, including the musical numbers. “Charlie (Stemp) and I have a musical theatre background. There is a little musical number at the end of each half, so if you are a fan of musical theatre there’s something for everyone in this play – apart from my dashing good looks and winning smile!”
John was last seen on TV when he won the 2018 series of Celebrity Masterchef. He said: “My food career is taking over my life a little bit. When I finish in Sheffield, I’m going to the Foodies Festival in Brighton and also appearing in London.
“I’m bringing out a cookbook called No Taste Like Home. There’ll be over 100 recipes in there.
“My food very much has a narrative and in some ways is an extension of my creative career. I say cooking food from my past has helped me to live in the present.”
John said he learned to cook for himself as a teenage actor when he was appearing in the musical Cats.
He said: “In the Masterchef final it was a year to the day since I’d lost my mum. I’m not a really spiritual person but there was some sort of weird alignment within that whole process for me.
“I definitely knew my mum was there with a tea towel on her shoulder, having a tut at me!”
John still gets recognised by fans of EastEnders for his portrayal of Christian Clarke, brother of Jane Beale. John said: “I am very fond of him, he’s somebody I know very well. I’m always grateful when people recognise me for that.
“People always ask you would you go back? I was there for five years and it was a brilliant time in my life.”
However, John said that he prefers a more varied career.
Rough Crossing is at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield from April 23 to 27. Book online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co,uk