Strictly TV judge Craig Revel Horwood playing the villain again in Sheffield in musical Annie
He’s the opinionated Strictly judge that TV audiences love to hate and Craig Revel Horwood is playing the villain on stage too.
Craig gets into drag to play the wicked orphanage manager Miss Hannigan, a role he has already performed to great acclaim on the West End stage.
Here, he talks about the role.
What made you want to return to Annie, and what is so appealing about the role of Miss Hannigan?
I just love this character so much; I am deeply in love with her. I think she is absolutely fantastic and an extremely misunderstood woman. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to take her from the West End out on tour, and to play her in theatres I have never performed Annie in before.
Playing her is like an actor’s playground, she is a tyrant and a villain, and those are always the most fun characters to play. I couldn’t believe that they wanted me to play Miss Hannigan at first, but I thought it would be great, and a real challenge for me.
I play her for real – she’s not a pantomime dame, there’s no mucking about or breaking the fourth wall, she’s a very real character in a beautifully-written show.
Do you find playing a woman fun, or does it come with any particular challenges?
Well the challenges are that you need to be honest and real with it. Obviously body language has a lot to do with that, also the placement of the voice, and the accent of course – which I spent six months perfecting.
As Annie is set in 1930s New York, it’s really nice to play a part who speaks differently than almost anyone does these days. It was a really enjoyable challenge.
Audiences probably know you best as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing. Do you enjoy performing and dancing on the stage as opposed to judging others?
Well, I grew up on musicals. I did West Side Story in Australia and then went into Me and My Girl and La Cage Aux Folles. I joined the famous Lido de Paris and the Moulin Rouge and then that led into being part of West End shows.
The last musical I appeared in in the West End was Crazy For You which opened in 1993. I had a really fun year that year. I then left to become a director and choreographer, and subsequently a judge on Strictly.
My first hoorah back onto the boards was when I was asked to do panto 10 years ago, and that reignited my passion for performing again really. When I was then asked to do Annie a few years ago I couldn’t believe it, but it’s such a talented cast, I couldn’t say no!
With the news that there’s a vacancy on the Strictly judging panel, do you have a dream judge you’d like to sit alongside or perhaps a fantasy contestant you’d love to see take part?
I always think it’s got to be someone who knows about dance and comes from a dance world. I’m certainly going to miss Darcy a lot, she’s a class act. There are a lot of people who could do it, and I want them to choose someone who is right for the job and has an opinion which is the most important thing!
Finally, what can audiences expect when they come to see you as Miss Hannigan in Annie?
Number one – entertainment, number two – a shock! Number three, some great singing, dancing and acting because we’ve got such a brilliantly talented cast, and of course all of the incredible songs that they know and love.