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Craig Revel Horwood: 'I encourage same sex Strictly dancing couples'

As he returns to the role of Miss Hannigan in Annie, the choreographer, director and actor Craig Revel Horwood explains what drew him to the part, why Strictly is so great and how he got the showbiz bug

Craig Revel Horwood in Annie
© Matt Crockett

Once I get Miss Hannigan's heels on it will all come flooding back. I'll have had four rehearsals in total before I start in Annie, so I'm doing a lot of character work at home. I love the part, she's a really wonderful character because she's either drunk or hungover in every scene and you can have a lot of fun with that. She's also completely misunderstood because all she's looking for is love. The fact that she's about to murder Annie and get 25,000 dollars is beside the point.

My Miss Hannigan looks exactly like my sister, bizarrely. Facebook recognition thinks I am my sister! But I've tried to make the character my own. It's nice to play a proper role, where I don't have to break the fourth wall and become myself. Like in panto: people want to see Craig Revel Horwood, even though I'm playing the Wicked Queen.

The part is a big sing and a big dance. "Little Girls" is not an easy song, the intervals are difficult and it has a huge range – certainly for me because I'm a tenor. It's the effort of singing and dancing and wearing a corset – which I'm wearing to feminise myself. I have massive e-cup breasts which are heavy and wear heels too. It's a challenge!

My mind needs to be occupied all the time and I work better under pressure. I like improvising, and I encourage myself to try lots of different things. I don't like to be pigeon-holed. I wouldn't want to just do musicals, I like doing opera, ballet, Strictly Come Dancing, inventing new shows and directing my new show Son of a Preacher Man. Varying what I do in life keeps me learning which is so important. As is being criticised - I like that, I thrive on it.

I used to put on Christmas shows with my siblings and cousins. I started dancing to lose weight because I was a fat kid. I loved dancing and it was the first time I was good at something. My teachers encouraged me and I found my passion. From when I got my first job in West Side Story at 17 I have not stopped working.

I have no problem with same sex dancing couples, I would encourage that. There's no reason why a man can't dance with a man. The tango was originally danced by two men. You just have to choose who's going backwards, which is generally the shorter person. Strictly is about community. There's a celeb from different backgrounds which brings communities together, so if you're into rugby then you can follow the rugby player. It's encouraged loads of people to dance which is brilliant.

Annie runs at the Piccadilly Theatre until February 18. Craig Revel Horwood stars as Miss Hannigan from 18 September to 26 November.

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