11:42 Monday 06 January 2014

INTERVIEW: Anton du Beke star of Strictly Come Dancing to embark on tour

Written byCAROLINE KAY

Anton du Beke and Summer Strallen Anton du Beke and Summer Strallen

HE’S the epitome of debonair with grace and style seldom seen in an era of slouch jeans and textspeak.

Everything about Anton du Beke is suave and sophisticated - from his top hat to his shiny shoes.

The King of Ballroom is a charismatic entertainer who will be embarking on a major tour this month – Ballroom to Broadway, a show which promises to be a trip of treats celebrating the golden sound of musicals through a star-spangled programme of dance and song.

Anton came to the public attention – and mine – in the first season of the hit BBC series Strictly Come Dancing.

Partnering Lesley Garrett, the couple were placed third and since then the 47-year old dancer has been a permanent fixture on the show.

His professional partner of 16 years, Erin Boag, is expecting her first child in the spring, and the Ballroom to Broadway show will be the first time the light-footed foxtrotter will be touring without her.

“It’s really exciting news that Erin’s pregnant,” says Anton. “Not that it’s anything to do with me!”

“For women it’s difficult to fit a family into the routine. She’s decided that was what she wanted to do and that’s brilliant. She’s having the baby next spring and knowing Erin she’ll be back into her skinny jeans 12-and-a-half hours later.”

In Erin’s absence, Anton is delighted to be performing with Summer Strallen, star of musical theatre and darling of the West End.

“Summer is what is called a triple threat,” he says. “One of those rare people in showbusiness who can sing, dance and act.

“She’s the sort of person Arlene Phillips used to talk about during her judging days on Strictly Come Dancing.

“We come from two very different dance worlds and the show is a fusion of those two worlds.

“This show really gives me the chance to do something different. As a dancer you want to try new things and push yourself and it’s a great opportunity for me to do some something really different.”

Although Erin won’t be touring with the show, she has been involved with the costumes.

“She’s been telling me whether I look good or not,” he laughs.

Joining Anton and Summer on stage will be resident Strictly Come Dancing singer Lance Ellington, world-class ensemble dancers including Burn the Floor’s Faye Huddleston, and the Raymond Gubbay Big Band Orchestra, which will be conducted by Richard Balcombe.

Surprisingly, Anton’s inspiration for the show has come from the pairing of Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse – not Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as I am sure many of us believe.

“They (Astaire and Charisse) made a film called The Band Wagon back in the day and that was one of the big influences in my life,” he says.

“I am really excited to be reproducing the musical number Dancing in the Dark. It’s one of my favourite numbers – Fred Astaire just being Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse being all leggy and tremendous.”

Anton is a skilled entertainer which extends far beyond his exceptional ballroom talents, and his latest tour will see him present and perform a collection of show-stopping numbers which epitomise the glitz and glamour of the golden era of Hollywood.

“The thing I love most about the show is the songs, every one is a show-stopper,” he says.

“We don’t get too obscure with our shows. People want to be entertained and I don’t want to teach anyone the ins and outs of a piece of music. We sing, we dance, we entertain.

“What I didn’t want was an evening of Michael Buble songs, or big band, or just Fred Astaire numbers. I wanted a mixture of everything.”

But will he be performing the foxtrot, a dance which has earned him the moniker of the King of Ballroom?

“I try to think of what I would like to see at a show and whatever I decide to do, at some point I need to put on a tail suit and do a foxtrot, or else I would have a breakdown. I can then take my shoes and socks off to do a contemporary number.

“Well, you wouldn’t go to a Shirley Bassey concert and not want her to sing Goldfinger would you?”

l Ballroom to Broadway will perform at Victoria Hall, Stoke-on-Trent (0844 871 7649), on Wednesday, January 29 at 7.30pm; Birmingham Symphony Hall (0121 345 0603) on Saturday, February 8 at 7.30pm and Sunday, March 9 at 3pm; Nottingham Royal Concert Hall (0115 989 5555) on Sunday, February 9 at 3pm; Leicester de Montfort Hall (0116 233 3111) on Friday, February 21 at 7.30pm and Derby Assembly Rooms (01332 255800) on Friday, March 14 at 7.30pm.

For further information visit www.raymondgubbay.co.uk/antondubeke or call the national ticket hotline on 0844 847 2319

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