“Anyone who knew me at the time knew I was obsessed with the program,” the 2016 Strictly Come Dancing champion confessed, pictured with dance partner Joanne Clifton and the Glitterball.
“It was actually pretty amazing when I got a call just to meet the producers because they meet a lot of people – the list of people who might appear on this show is as long as the world is round.
“I was so excited that one day I could appear on the show because they had me on the radar.
“I had a great meeting. I told them about all the series I had watched – Jill Halfpenny’s jive in series two. I didn’t play it cool at all.
“Fast forward a few months and they asked me to be on Strictly. I’ll never forget my agent called me and there was a break on the line. Then she started singing the Strictly theme. I said I don’t know what that means, just tell me with words and not with melodies and themes.
Ore wowed the judges and viewers of millions with his moves week after week before winning the title, which was to have a profound impact on his career.
“Shows like Strictly open doors and I guess for me, with theater in mind, it actually reinvigorated a part of my life that I had put aside.
“I spent a lot of my childhood and school years on stage playing in productions. He was always there, I loved being on a stage or on a sports field, it’s there that I found my voice.
“I guess I’ve been so lucky in the different things I’ve done in my career, but it’s amazing when you get the opportunity to do something like Strictly. But again, that doesn’t guarantee not that when you’re done you’ll start performing in stockings and heels on the Rocky Horror Show five years later!
“But I knew how much I loved being in that environment and how much I thrived on a stage – and here we are in slightly higher heels.”
Ore has been busy with television and other work, so it was a few years before he made his stage debut in 2019’s Grease.
“There was a mix of reasons why I didn’t do something sooner,” he said. “Most important to me, I always knew I wanted to find the time to learn the skills I needed to get out there and perform on stage.
“I realized right away that musical theater was the path I was going to take, but it’s easy to think that as a Strictly winner you can just walk into a theater production and then run with it. I was completely unqualified, that’s the best way to put it.
“To put on eight shows a week to paying audiences, you have to be tough, you have to be capable, you have to have talent, have the work rate, the ethic and everything else, and so I identified that and I needed to work on it.
“I knew I needed time to work on my vocal ability, I also went to Pineapple Dance Studios – very cliched – but I spent time there and just wanted to get to a level where I knew that I could be an asset to a theater company – and that takes time. It wasn’t something I wanted to rush into, that’s for sure.
After Grease and some acting flirtations, the Rocky Horror Show producers called.
“It was Christmas 2020 and I thought they had the wrong guys,” he admitted.
“I definitely didn’t see myself on the show. But then I spoke with my wife, who is a huge Rocky fan, and her family has been obsessed with it for decades and they couldn’t stop laughing at the idea of me dancing in my pants every night. But they said, ‘you have to do it’
“I said ‘Okay if you mean it.’ And then I watched the movie start to finish for the first time and it was, ‘oh, that’s what I signed up for, okay, wow.’
“I started to learn the script but everything was postponed and the opening was postponed to May, then June and we finally opened in July 2021 – and I couldn’t wait to get started.
“It wasn’t until I walked into the rehearsal room that I was like, ‘oh my god, how could I have done anything other than this show.’ There’s an incredibly talented band, the company, the band, the whole production is so smooth and has been on stage for 49 years and they know what they’re doing. But what was so wonderful for me was to be in that creative space again – and when the Time Warp is rocking on the keys for the first time, you say, “I’m not in a school disco anymore dancing to this, I’m actually about to play this in front of a paying audience” and it’s is very, very special.
Ore has toured the UK with the show to great acclaim since, but what does he attribute the success of the iconic production to?
“There’s the signature music and when the Time Warp starts and myself and my wonderful fiancée on the show, Haley Flaherty who plays Janet, go up on stage and watch the cast play the Time Warp, I look to the left and everything the public is standing, dressed as if they had gone to town, and we see the happiness and joy, these are people who have come to have fun and party.
“Something that’s been going on for almost 50 years, you’d think it would slow down, but I think Rocky is picking up speed. Audiences are growing, there’s a new generation of Rocky fans out there right now, and it may matter more to communities and people than ever before. When you talk about being true to who you are and who you are, and leaving that person that society tells you to be behind and going out and being the person you want to be, I think 2022 is what which it is.
“In the 1970s it was a show about some oddities, it was a bit niche and a bit underground, but now it’s something to celebrate and they were all kinda weird so let’s celebrate that, come in a theater and go absolutely crazy.”
So does he think the same will happen when The Rocky Horror opens in Peterborough on Monday?
“I will expect it and I will look forward to it, but it’s not contractual for any member of the public who plans to come to the show,” he joked. “The lovely thing is that we have many, many comebacks that come back every time Rocky is on tour, as we’ve seen before – they’ll come dozens of times. But they all came for the first time, once upon a time, and that’s something Rocky does to you – it creates something in people that says, ‘I can’t see it once, I want to come several times. time”. It changes people in the most amazing way and I just can’t wait for people to come see the show and get left in the door and have a good time.
The Rocky Horror Show is at the New Theater from February 14-19. Tickets at www.newtheatre-peterborough.com