Strictly's Craig Revel Horward on why he loves his role in Annie
PUBLISHED: 13:00 25 May 2019
The hit musical Annie is coming to Dartford directly from London, for just one week and is likely to sell out quickly.
Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood stars as the tyrannical Miss Hannigan.
For those that don't know, the show is set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, and brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery at Miss Hannigan's orphanage.
Her luck soon changes when she's chosen to spend a fairytale Christmas with famous billionaire Oliver Warbucks.
Meanwhile, spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie's search for her true family.
Craig has done all this before, but when asked why he wanted to return, he said: "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 actors' 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."
But there are other challenges to getting it right.
He said: "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.
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"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."
He added: "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 West End musical I appeared in 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."
Children and animals are the cliché no-noes for actors, but there are plenty in Annie.
Craig said: "We have three sets of children on Annie, so they bring something really organic to the show. You'll never get the same show twice.
"They will come up with stuff and you've got to react to it live on stage which is a bit of a challenge."
He added: "I wouldn't mind playing a boy at some stage.
"I tend to get lots of female roles, which is great because I love playing women, but it would be nice to play a bloke so I will aim high and say I'm aiming for the next Bond."
And finally, he said: "I enjoy the difference in the theatres, the public and their relationships with the stage which always change. You find audiences differ around the country and that's what is so great about live theatre."
Annie is at The Orchard Theatre from June 17-22. Book tickets at orchardtheatre.co.uk or call the ticket office on 01322 220000.