Ore Oduba reveals how Strictly win prompted career change as Curtains comes to Norwich
- Credit: Richard Davenport/The Other Richard
TV presenter turned West End star Ore Oduba explains how winning Strictly encouraged him to follow his dreams ahead of musical Curtains coming to Norwich Theatre Royal.
Since winning Strictly Come Dancing in 2016 with professional Joanne Clifton, Ore has established himself as an all-round entertainer and his win prompted him to venture into musical theatre.
He first got his big break in presenting fresh out of university in 2008 on CBBC's Newsround and he has gone on to work on the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, This Morning, The One Show and many more.
He made his theatrical debut as the Teen Angel in the Grease UK tour last year, a role he shared with Peter Andre, and following a spell in panto at Christmas is now on the road with musical Curtains, alongside comedian Jason Manford and Carley Stenson, best known for playing Steph Cunningham in Hollyoaks.
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Have you been to Norwich before?
I have bizarrely, as last time I was in Norwich I was working with Jason on A Question of Sport Super Saturday and he was in the studio and I was on location mucking about in shopping malls and we filmed at intu Chapelfield in 2014.
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I didn't actually meet him, even though we worked on the same show, but he reached out with a private message on Twitter saying well done as it is a tough gig as you spend hours on end getting the public to score goals and play pool.
I appreciated it and I have seen him lots of times on the circuit since.
What can audiences expect from Curtains?
It is coming straight out of the West End [the show debuted at Wyndham's Theatre in December] and is now going to audiences around the country and it is a big, entertaining and feel-good show.
A lot of shows going round right now have a really important message or political angle, but when you come out of this you will be buzzing and want to dance - it is 24-carat entertainment.
The lyrics are by Fred Ebb and music by John Kander and they wrote Chicago and Cabaret, so it is right up there with the standard of songs and although you may not know them right now, you may well find your new favourite musical.
Jason is effervescent and his vocal is incredible and Carley has been a friend for years and is incredible.
It is a comedy musical and also a murder mystery and a show within a show - a company is trying to put on a performance bound for Broadway, but in the first scene during the bows one of its stars gets murdered.
It is then the role of Jason's character, detective Frank Cioffi, to try and find out what happened.
Frank is also a huge musical theatre fan so fixes the problems in the show too and it is two-and-a-half hours of jokes and clangers.
Who do you play in the show?
I play Aaron Fox who is the composer of the show who loves his music but is a bit unlucky in love, it is a beautiful character and my big number is I Miss the Music.
My wife saw me in the West End and she is my biggest critic so I was sweating whilst waiting for her review, but she loved it.
Have you found audiences surprised by your singing voice?
It is nice as people tell me they are pleasantly surprised as they are aware of my dancing but not singing.
I've been working hard behind the scenes to make sure I'm an asset to any theatre company.
How did you first get your big break as a TV presenter?
I started out presenting Newsround on CBBC and doing sports coverage too, I remember meeting the big heads at the BBC the summer before I graduated from university and was doing a lot of student telly.
I had given them my show reel and I didn't know they were looking for an on-screen presenter. so I went from university straight into TV.
What have been your highlights of presenting career?
I am so fortunate that I have been working in TV since 2008 and there have been so many highlights, it was a huge moment to be part of London 2012 as well as Rio in 2016 and then I went straight to Strictly Come Dancing that year.
Then, in 2017, I presented the One Love Manchester concert with Sara Cox and after that huge tragedy it was amazing to be part of such a show where it felt like the whole world was watching.
Why did you decide to take part in Strictly and how did it change your career?
Strictly is the biggest show on telly and people are counting down during the week for Saturday to come and it felt like a real honour to be invited into people's living rooms.
It sounds like a cliché, but it is all about the taking part and I just didn't want to go home as you work with the best dancers in the world.
I never expected to win, and after the show I went away with my wife for a couple of weeks and we were sitting on the beach and it finally dawned on me how huge the achievement was.
I got given this break and I was amazed with what I was able to achieve with Joanne from week to week and it made we realise there is no limitations to what you can do.
Sometimes there are a number of things that make you want to say no, such as family commitments or age, but it changed my attitude and I made the brave call into musical theatre.
What happened afterwards?
I did a lot of theatre growing up and I've always loved being on stage, which was also on the sports field as a kid, but it was never really a career path for me as my family had no ties to entertainment.
After Strictly, I took a bit of time to realise the amazing opportunity that I couldn't let up and thought if I didn't I would regret it in ten years time if I didn't end up investigating this avenue.
I also wanted to continue doing radio and broadcast too.
You made your theatre debut as the Teen Angel in Grease last year, was it nerve-wracking?
I got my first break in Grease and it is one people know and have loved for over 40 years, so people are pumped even before they have arrived in the building.
I didn't hit any bum notes and it was the perfect set up for Curtains, which is my first principal role in a musical, and I also played Dandini in Cinderella in Croydon at Christmas.
Curtains runs from February 11 to 15 at Norwich Theatre Royal, with matinee and evening tickets available, and they cost from £10 to £49.50.
The show is suitable for ages 12+ and you can purchase tickets at norwichtheatre.org, 01603 630000 or in person at the box office.