Getting to know Strictly Ballroom's Kevin Clifton and Faye Brookes as show tours to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
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When Kevin Clifton was 10 years old he watched the film of Strictly Ballroom and, as a budding competitive dancer, immediately saw himself in the character of Scott Hastings, recalling: “He was a hero to me and such an inspiration.”Three decades later Clifton’s dream has come true, as he headlines the tour of Strictly Ballroom The Musical that is foxtrotting its way to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre from Monday, June 12, to Saturday, June 17.
Kevin is joined by Dancing on Ice finalist and Coronation Street star Faye Brookes.
“I’m absolutely elated,” says Faye, of playing fledgling hoofer Fran in the stage version of the hit film. “I love that she’s the underdog, which is something I’ve never played before. That’s the big challenge, but bring it on!”Adapted from the film by creators Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce and directed in this new production by Craig Revel Horwood, the musical revolves around rebellious Australian dancer Scott, who causes a commotion with his radical moves and raises eyebrows when he opts to dance with absolute beginner Fran.
Craig Revel Horwood also choreographs the production with Strictly Come Dancing’s creative director Jason Gilkison.Thirty years since he first saw the movie, Kevin Clifton remembers relating to Scott’s desire to dance his own way rather than following the rule book.
“I’m not sure whether it was something in me or whether it was totally inspired by the movie but I always felt the same way,” he remembers. “I was always more obsessed with entertaining an audience than winning a competition.”Having gone on to become Youth Number 1 and four-time British Latin Champion, he adds: “My coaches used to go nuts when I was competing because I would say to them, I would rather energise the crowd, make sure they have a great time and me come fifth in the competition rather than win whilst being a bit boring.”Having gone on to become Youth Number One and four-time British Latin Champion, he adds: “My coaches used to go nuts when I was competing because I would say to them ‘I would rather energise the crowd, make sure they have a great time and me come fifth in the competition rather than win whilst being a bit boring”.Kevin, who was on Strictly Come Dancing for seven years from 2013 and won in 2018 with celebrity partner Stacey Dooley, notes: “Even on the show I would always chase an audience reaction instead of a 10 from the judges. I’ve always had that in me.”Strictly Ballroom the movie went on to become one of the most successful Australian films of all time, earning a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture and bagging three BAFTA awards for its costumes, production design and music score. The first movie in Luhrmann’s Red Curtain Trilogy, it was followed by Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge! and hailed the arrival of a major new talent.The show’s first-ever UK and Ireland tour features a cast of more than 20 world-class performers, such familiar songs as Love is in the Air and Time After Time and new music from artists including Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect.Its central message of ‘A life lived in fear is a life half lived’ chimes with Clifton.
“I left my comfort zone of Strictly Come Dancing to do more theatre,” says the actor-singer-dancer, who had already appeared in Dirty Dancing, The Wedding Singer and Rock of Ages.Growing up in Trafford, Faye Brookes was introduced to the Strictly Ballroom film by her elder sisters.
“They were eight and 10 years older than me and I remember them dancing around, with one sister pretending to be Scott and the other pretending to be Fran,” she laughs.A graduate of the Guildford School of Acting, Faye completed a BA degree in musical theatre and performed in many shows before making her Coronation Street debut in 2015 for a four-year stint as Kate Connor.Did she miss the stage during her time on the soap? “I did, yes. I want to do it all in my career, but being on TV I missed the live aspect of performing and that instant gratification you get from an audience.
"Corrie was like this runaway train, where you had to jump on or you’d miss it, but I loved my time on the show.”As for the appeal of the musical, Faye says: “It’s so clever, funny and witty, and it’s about discovering who you are and what you can accomplish.
"Then there’s the music, the singing, the dancing, the sequins, the comedy and the fact it’s non-stop. It has something for everyone whether they’re young or old and the story is ultimately so heartwarming.”Kevin agrees. “It’s a lot of fun and it’s a romantic comedy with lots of great dancing. I know people who come see it are going to have an amazing time and that’s what everyone needs. It’s as good as musical theatre gets, with great singing, great dancing and a love story at its heart.”Strictly Ballroom brings to life iconic songs, including Love is in the Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Time After Time with dynamic and joyous verve. Get ready for a feelgood evening full of sequins, singing and salsa. Tickets for the show that will send your heart soaring and leave your toes tapping are available now online.