Strictly star now Puttin’ on the Ritz

Puttin' on the Ritz
Puttin' on the Ritz

Strictly Come Dancing star Trent Whiddon has gone back to his theatre roots for the show Puttin’ on the Ritz in Sheffield this week.

I caught up with Trent by phone in Slovenia, where he and his wife and professional dance partner Gordana Grandosek have lived for almost seven years.

They were in training after Trent had finished a two-week stint in Puttin’ on the Ritz with his Strictly partner, pop star Pixie Lott.

Trent is used to globetrotting as he is from Australia, so he thinks nothing of popping on a plane to work in Britain.

When we spoke he and Gordana were rehearsing for the show, which is based on the Golden Age of Hollywood, featuring the music of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and George Gershwin.

Songs include Cheek to Cheek, Alexander’s Rag Time Band, Birth of the Blues, Swanee, Night and Day, I Got Rhythm, Easter Parade and the title number.

Trent said: “It is a really glamorous, old-style slick musical production with the big old showbiz numbers that everyone loves.

“It’s nice to get back to that old school glamour with great frocks coming in. There’s really great dancers and great tap numbers.

“There’s also fantastic singing, including with one singer we’ve worked with on Strictly. We’ve also worked with some of the dancers before, on Burn the Floor on Broadway, so it’s nice to see some old faces.”

Trent is no stranger to stage shows as he starred in Burn the Floor on Broadway and on tour. Burn the Floor is a high-energy show based on ballroom and latin dancing that became a huge hit.

He said: “Myself and Gordana were in Burn the Floor in 2002. We really used to do eight shows a week! I loved doing the tour, travelling and going in and out of different theatres.

“That more familiar to me than TV, so it’s like going back into an old club.”

He said that he dashed into Strictly at the last moment as a replacement for Robin Windsor, who was injured.

“It happened really quickly. We had just moved pt Los Angeles because we always had this wish to move there, then we got the call six or seven months later and we had to go back to the UK.”

Trent added: “I don’t think I was prepared for how massive the show was in the UK.

“I wasn’t used to having people stopping you in the street to say ‘you did a fantastic foxtrot’ or people still saying, ‘you were robbed’.

“I’ve done the show (Dancing With the Stars) in Australia and the US and the style of it was completely different than everywhere else. It’s more in touch with the traditional style of ballroom dancing and there is a different sort of humour.

“I thought the Aussie and the British humour were similar but it’s more light-hearted and family-orientated.”

Sadly, Trent’s time on Strictly Come Dancing has ended after just one series.

He said: “They did ask me to join back for the next season but there wasn’t a position for both myself and Gordana to do the show. We really love dancing together and doing everything together.

“Strictly was the first thing we’d done in seven years where we hadn’t been working together, so I had to decline. I preferred to do something else that we could do together.”

Puttin’ on the Ritz is at the Lyceum from tonight until Saturday. Box office: call 0114 249 6000 or go online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk