Tuesday, 31 May 2011

"Three words: Fab - u - lous!"

The lovely Russ got tickets for an unusual and very entertaining little event last night! Part of a series called These Are a Few of My Favourite Songs, which is on every evening this week at the Jermyn Street Theatre, basically the concept is music critic Mark Shenton interviewing guests from Theatreland about their favourite songs (and it is all in aid of supporting the Theatrical Guild). Guests include Bill Kenwright (tonight), Nicholas Hytner, Janie Dee, Sylvia Young and Styles and Drewe - a great line-up!

Last night it was the turn of Craig Revel Horwood. Now, as any of my regular readers will know I am no fan of "reality TV", talent shows or "celebrity" whatevers, so Mr Revell Horwood and his participation in Strictly Come Dancing had completely passed me by - a very good thing, as I had no expectations whatsoever of what the evening would consist of. But what a joy he turned out to be.

One of the campest things on two legs, the ebullient performer arrived on stage in a pink sequinned jacket to die for, and, after a few introductions and some background to his life, proceeded to perform one of his old audition numbers (for the first time in fifteen years apparently) - The Greatest Love Of All. It is a truly awful song, but at least he knew how to inject a little pizazz into it - Mr Revel Horwood used to be a drag queen known as "Lavish" (christened such by none other than Danny LaRue!), after all...

With amazing candidness, "dahling", he let us into all sorts of anecdotes about his childhood and his desperate desire to escape backwoods Australia (first as a musical prodigy, then by becoming a minor chef, a cable puller in a TV studio, and finally a dancer) and his domineering seafaring father (which meant he never had a permanent home for many years); about his teenage years as the "kept boy" of an (as yet) unnamed TV personality; his ill-fated marriage to a woman; and his early entry into showbiz.

Mr Shenton managed to tease some fabulous gossip out of him - such as the individual who was sacked from Miss Saigon because of lascivious and drunken behaviour (which provided an inroad for Mr Revell Horwood into the show), the disaster that was The Beautiful and the Damned, the trials and tribulations of working with everyone from Darren Day to theatre impresario Susan Stroman, and the back (and front) stage conflicts on Strictly.

On his time as a so-called "rent-boy", he certainly seemed to have no regrets: "It was the best thing that ever happened to me. He took me to the opening of Cats in New York; and Dream Girls had just opened on Broadway. I saw very clearly that I wanted to do that, that I wanted to be part of that life, and I'd do anything to get it."

He let us into stories about his worldwide productions, including (among many, many others) Spend, Spend, Spend, Sunset Boulevard, My One And Only (which we went to see in 2002), Hot Mikado, Hans Christian Anderson, Crazy for You, and one of which he was most proud (and proved another in a long line of learning curves in his career) - choreographing the Ballet Boyz in a tango Yumba vs Nonino, originally done in concert when two maestros of the genre Osvaldo Pugliese and Astor Piazzolla did virtual "battle" with their orchestras:

Among the other songs he chose were Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, and something by a bizarre Aussie (I think) evangelist singer - "It taught me all about key changes, daahlings". Songs from shows in which he was directly involved - I'd Give My Life for You from the aforementioned Miss Saigon, and Someone Else's Story from Chess (the currently touring version of which is one of his "babies") - were sung by Caroline Sheen, accompanied by pianist Ben Stock.

He even revealed (and he would know, just having researched and produced a show called Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show, a musical based on the title of Neil Diamond's controversial fourth album of the same name which upset US evangelists) that originally Mr Diamond's famous tear-jerker Love On The Rocks began life as a bluegrass number called Scotch On The Rocks - but the producers made him re-write it, and the rest is history.

But campest by far was this number. It was not about the song at all - we all love Bette Midler's When A Man Loves A Woman from The Rose, after all - but the monologue with which she introduces it. For apparently, a very young Mr Revell Horwood proudly stood up in front of his English class in roughneck Ballarat, Victoria and recited the whole thing off pat - much to the astonishment of his sporty compatriots! He mouthed every word again last night, much to our delight:

I loved this evening - and only wish I could get tickets for any of the other interviews this week!

These Are A Few of My Favourite Songs

The conversation last night was recorded and will be available to hear on Theatrevoice in due course.

Craig Revell Horwood's Chess is on tour now, and his new show with the Ballet Boyz Flamenco Flamen'ka opens at the Lyric Theatre in London on Thursday, 18 September.

Craig Revel Horwood official website

All Balls and Glitter, Mr Revell Horwood's autobiography is out now!


  1. fab blog of a fab evening - pleasure to read x

  2. fabulous monologue too - lol

  3. I only wish you could have been there to see/hear it! - it was fab! Jx


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