Doing Strictly was a real game changer for me
Danny Mac tells MARION McMULLEN why he initially turned down Strictly Come Dancing and why he’s now head over heels about new musical Amélie
What was it like reaching the finals of Strictly Come Dancing?
I DIDN’T really know the show beforehand. I had never watched it because Saturday was usually a work night for me ... and I did turn it down a few times.
Then when I told people I was going on everyone was just ‘Oh, my god.’ It was just a game changer, a real life changer, for me and they were really good on the show and looked after me.
I would get whole families coming up to me, from youngsters to elderly grandparents, and some would say ‘I’ve had a really tough time and the only thing that made me smile this week was Strictly’.
It makes me tear up just saying it. You never forget doing that show that you are doing it for the public. It is a wonderful thing.
What attracted you to the role of romantic daydreamer Nino in Amélie The Musical?
I DIDN’T know if I wanted to do the show at first.
It’s six months out of the city, on the road and another musical. I was not sure if it would stretch me or if was something I wanted to do, but then I read it and fell in love with the script.
I’ve never been so passionate about a script and I just phoned my agent right back. It’s like nothing else I’ve ever done. It’s completely out of the box.
The production is based on the Oscar nominated film about a young woman with a gift for helping others. How does it work as a musical?
IT is just so quirky and beautiful and the words of the songs are wonderful.
Director Michael Fentiman was given free reign and I feel lucky and honoured to be able to take this on the road.
It’s not a musical version of the film. It’s t’s more an alternative way of telling the story.
There are 16 people on stage all playing instruments. I play a little bit t in the show, a little bit of piano, no, but if I’m not playing guitar by the end of the tour I’ll be livid. I’ll be after some of the guys for some lessons.
It’s a real privilege. They are an amazing group of people.
What do you miss most when you are on tour?
I MISS my wife (actress Carley Stenson) and our mad cockapoo dogs Barney and Bailey, but I’ll try to get back home every weekend.
When Carley and I are both in shows we try and make time to have a couple of hours in the evening to wind down and chat, play music and catch up.
It’s really important to switch off. I find one of the best ways is to put on a podcast and go for a run.
Does it help that you are both in showbusiness?
DEFINITELY. Especially with something like Strictly when you are not around a lot. It can be really hard to explain sometimes when you are forced to miss family events because of the job. That’s really tough. It’s the worst part of it.
What was the first show you ever saw?
GREASE at the Dominion back in early 90s when I was five or six. I loved the film and my mum and dad quickly realised if there was anything performance-based on the telly like Grease or Bugsy Malone I would sit there and watch it all day.
When I saw these guys did this for a living, this was their job, and the fun they were having, I knew then there was nothing else I felt more passionate about.
My first big gig was playing the young Gavroche in Les Miserables. That show changed my life. It was a big deal for me.
What did your parents think of your career choice?
THEY’VE always been supportive and come and see all the shows I’m in. Mum works in a hospice and my father has a fruit and veg business.
They used to come with lots of cards and flowers at the stage door on press night and I would say to my mum ‘You work with people who are dying. I should be buying you a bunch of flowers every day.’
Amélie The Musical tours until October 19 (ameliethemusical.com) and Danny will also be appearing in White Christmas (whitechristmasthemusical.co.uk) London’s Dominion Theatre from November 15.
Pe Performer his wife Carley, Danny above Mac and rh left, with and Strictly S partner Oti Mabuse, left
Danny as Nino in Amélie The Musical