Craig Revel Horwood Dances His Way to Panto In SW19

Craig Revel Horwood Dances His Way To Panto In SW19

The longest standing Strictly judge is perfecting his cackle as he prepares to take on the role as the Wicked Stepmother in Cinderella at New Wimbledon Theatre this winter.

By Ellie Holmes

They say there is no rest for the wicked and Craig Revel Horwood is living proof of that, if we’re talking about playing wicked parts.

Craig is coming to Wimbledon for the pantomime this year and will be playing none other than the iconic ‘Wicked Stepmother’ in Cinderella.

He is just about to receive the script when we chat and his relish for the part is palpable. “I am so excited about playing the Stepmother in Cinderella, and I can’t wait to get the script and get cracking.”

His zest for his work is clear as not only is he preparing for Cinderella, he is also looking forward to getting his teeth into the productions of Annie, where he is playing Miss Hannigan in November.

So I ask him what keeps him motivated and inspired with his roles.

“Everything is a different experience. With Annie I am performing with three different Annie’s which keeps things so exciting and fresh. So every performance has an element of improvisation in it and an element of surprise.

“Then with Cinderella in panto, I have more opportunity to inject aspects of my personality and cameo snippets, which I love as well.”

Cast of Cinderella – credit Craig Sugden

Also in the pipeline is Craig’s part as the Wicked Witch of the West next year in The Wizard of Oz at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking from 7 to12 May.

He says: “I am super excited about taking on the iconic role of The Wicked Witch. She’s mean, green and wants those shoes! Aqua-phobic and fabulous…here I come!”

So what draws him to these evil characters? “They have a lot more depth. I find that fascinating, what makes them evil and obsessive? Have they had a disturbed childhood?

“It’s what I love about more damaged characters – dissecting what has made them who they are…..

“These characters are formed by their past experiences, the people they have met, how they have been treated, and I love to delve into this.”

Among all of these parts, Craig of course is most well-known on our screens as one of the judges on Strictly Come Dancing.

“When people ask me why I keep on doing Strictly, I explain that it’s the fact that no series is ever the same and I never get bored. It’s always exciting and always different.”

Craig is passionate about all aspects of music, dance and drama.

He is an ambassador for Dance Shack, which is a dance theatre for young people in SW London, and he is clear about what mentoring and inspiring young people means to him.

“Dance, music and acting gives people focus, passion and creativity.

“When you’re young you don’t know who you are and acting can give you that journey of self- discovery and enables you to find out.”

“I really got to know who I was through dance, and the freedom that it gave me was life-changing. I never thought that there would be life for a dancer over 30, but look at me now – the passion that it ignited has sustained me well into my 50s.”

Of course it’s not just the wicked stepmothers and witches that Craig has turned his hand to.

In 2012 Craig won the BBC2 series Maestro at the Opera, the final of which saw him conduct Act II of La Boheme at the Royal Opera House.

So how does he squeeze it all and how will he prepare himself for the full-on role in pantomime?

“ A Berocca a day is key! I try and keep up with my vitamin intake. I always exercise before the show and then we get into a lovely rhythm and routine of panto.

“Every performance is different and the energy and atmosphere is electric, and of course I love Wimbledon.”

Harwood lives in the East Midlands but is excited about his stint in SW19.

“I love the Village, the common. It’s a wonderful place to be and I am looking forward to my time there.”

It sounds like Craig is going to “Keep working and dancing” for a long time yet.

Cinderella runs at New Wimbledon Theatre, 8 Dec – 7 Jan. BOOK HERE