HE’S known to millions for his pithy put-downs as a judge on Strictly. But Craig Revel Horwood is currently going it alone proving to theatre audiences that there is far more to him that a savage one-liner.

Craig is halfway through his All Balls and Glitter tour which comes to The Lowry on Saturday and Blackpool’s Grand Theatre the following Sunday.

“It’s been on the bucket list to do for some time,” said Craig. “I was due to do it two years ago but then, of course, the world went into lockdown. So I have had two years to think about it but I must say I hadn’t realised how enormously tiring it would be.

“It is the first time that I have been on stage by myself in that way for two hours. It is a challenge but it’s a great challenge and one which I’ve really learned a lot from it. I’m really enjoying it.”


Craig Revel Horwood

Craig Revel Horwood


TV audiences really only know Craig from their Saturday night fix of Strictly where he is the most outspoken of the four judges commenting on professional dancers and their celebrity partners.

But Craig has a long and illustrious career behind, starting off in Australia where he grew up and first worked as a performer in shows such as West Side Story and La Cage Aux Folles.

After moving to the UK via a spell performing at the world-famous Moulin Rouge in Paris he subsequently appeared in West End productions of Mss Saigon and Crazy For You before becoming a much sought-after choreographer and director.

“It’s nice to know that I can still do now what I used to do 30 years ago,” he said. “I’ve really only performed a little bit in recent years. Yes, I was Miss Hannigan in Annie but I was actually only on stage for 17 minutes.

“It’s been the same with panto - you come on, say your bit then go off again. With this show once I’m on that’s it.”

As you would expect from Craig, this is not a simple one-man show where he sits around talking about his career.

“I get to sing the songs I love, music that’s important to me,” he said. “And I get to revisit the shows I’ve been involved in which people probably don’t realise.”

And to help him give the first half of the show an added dimension Craig has resurrected a character a first created many years ago.


Craig Revel Horwood

Craig Revel Horwood


“I do the first act in drag as Lavish,” he said. “I invented her years ago and killed her off in 1988 on the Champs Elysee walking up to the Arc de Triomphe. She was last seen at six in the morning getting on the wrong bus to Trocadero and now she’s back – she’s a lot greyer now; she used to be a red head.”

The Lavish character allows Craig to have some fun with telling the story of his early days and breaking through into the world of the theatre.

“I get to be able to tell the story of my life through her,” he said. “She can have an opinion which is good; if I were telling it as myself I’d be more guarded but it’s wonderful for Lavish to be able to tell the stories that Craig doesn’t want the audience to know.”

For the second half of the show Craig returns as himself.

“The response has been fantastic so far,” he said, “the majority of people have got it. I think it takes them 10 minutes to work out who Lavish is; whether it’s actually me or a stand-up comedy act that’s been flown in from Australia. There are some people who are still confused at the end although I can’t see how darling.

“I like challenging the audience and the show is entertaining in that way. I have fun with them and try and involve them as much as I can. Then they get to know lots about me that they don’t know which is equally as good.”

Much of the groundwork for the show was done a number of years ago when Craig wrote the first of three autobiographies.

“It was great to have that wealth of material already there,” he said, “but the difficulty was truncating it all into one story that flows with music. The books tell it as it is whereas, certainly in the first half, I’m telling the story from Lavish’s viewpoint about Craig.

“It’s great. I get to sing lot of female songs that Craig could never have done. So I get to do Memory from Cats and be Kim in Miss Saigon. It’s given me a licence to thrill darling!”

Although many fans may have picked up Craig’s books - or even seen a memorable episode of Who Do You Think You Are? - he acknowledges that the majority of people probably only know him as the judge on Strictly.

“How much are you seriously going to get to know about someone when they are just commenting on a dance routine?” he said. “I think that’s all a lot of people think I do but I’m very busy Monday to Friday.

“Strictly is just a Saturday job. I work full time apart from that. I think with this show it’s interesting for them to find out what else I do.

“Every single story in the show is completely true and I talk about all sorts of different things which have happened in my life.”

Given that public perception of him is so based on Strictly does he resent the programme in a way?

“No, I don’t resent it,” he said. “But certainly in the first couple of years of being on the show because I was seen as the ‘nasty judge’ I think producers were a little nervous or wary of me perhaps thinking that I was going to be judgemental when I’m directing or choreographing. I think that actually scared a few producers off.

“Making the leap into television from theatre is one thing but trying to maintain the two things was rather difficult.

“But after a couple of years that was fine and I got back into the theatre. There was a hiatus where people were worried I’d be quite vile to work with. But actually I’m quite the opposite when I’m doing directing and choreographing because when I’m doing that I get an opportunity to cast the show with people that I love for the different roles. Unlike Strictly where it’s a fait accompli. There I just have to deal with what I’m given and react. It’s a totally different job.”

As his tour ends, Craig will be going straight into casting the musical Strictly Ballroom which he is to direct

He said: “This year has evolved into one massive year. All the things I meant to do over the last couple of years have been thrown on to me so I’m now working back to back which is crazy. But I love it.”

Demanding tour aside, Craig has plenty of energy left to pursue other projects.

“I really want to do a jazz version of La Traviata,” he said. “I have been working on that for a while with my friend Sarah Travers. I’ve directed it several times as an opera and just thought because it was pop music of its time I’d love to bring a jazz feel to it.

“We’ve done a bit of work with a band to see what you can do with Verdi.

“I also want to direct a film as that’s something I’ve never done.

“But first, once this tour’s over and we’ve done the casting for Strictly Ballroom, I think I’ll go on a little holiday. I really need one.”

All Balls and Glitter, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Saturday, May 7 (details from www.thelowry.com) and Blackpool Opera House on Sunday, May 15 (www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk)