While, to many, he’s known as the nasty judge on Strictly Come Dancing, prior to finding fame on the popular BBC show, Craig Revel Horwood had a successful career as a choreographer. However, it was a career that almost came crumbling around him.
Speaking on White Wine Question Time, the Australia-born star revealed that he walked away from a very successful career with West End producer, Cameron Mackintosh, who has produced huge shows such as Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera and Hamilton.
Revel Horwood explained that while working on The Witches of Eastwick in 2000, he left behind their seven-year working relationship as Mackintosh refused to give him a co-choreographing credit.
“I just wanted in the back of the program just to say co-choreographed by and he didn't want to do that,” explained Revel Horwood to podcast host Kate Thornton.
“I'd already opened a show as choreographer in the West End for Spend, Spend, Spend, which I received a nomination for an Olivier Award, and so I thought I really felt the need to not assist anymore.”
The Strictly star admitted to Kate that he thought Mackintosh would relent and give him the credit, but instead, the job was handed to fellow West End choreographer, Stephen Mears.
“I left the double doors of the Macintosh empire and fell directly into the dance gutter,” he recalled.
“Cameron did me a huge favour to be honest, because then I was forced to go it alone and had to prove myself by myself.
“Obviously, I had to give up my mobile phone at the time because I couldn't afford it. Suddenly the money stopped - everything stopped - and I had to try and put myself on the map as a choreographer, but in my own right.”
His decision proved to be the right one though when he landed a job choreographing a small show at the Chichester Festival Theatre called Pal Joey, which earned him rave reviews.
“Other producers were talking about me and then suddenly I was on a treadmill to becoming an international choreographer,” he said.
“And without Cameron's boot out the door - which you can't understand at the time - but if you trust the universe, doors will open. It taught me a valuable lesson to accept your fate and then try and help yourself to something and open another door and say, yes, even if you don't think you can do it.”
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Revel Horwood also said the experienced taught him to push himself – even if he feels out of his depth.
He told Thornton: “When I first directed opera, I was scared to death ‘cause it's in a foreign language obviously and I had to really study it.
“There are a lot of things I say yes to that really challenged me. I think the more scared and fearful you are, the better it is for you because you then have another string to your bow.”
The choreographer, who has worked on a diverse range of things from appearing as Miss Hannigan in Annie to helping Hugh Grant learn to tap dance in Paddington 2, said that failures have also been important to him and his career, citing one of his critically panned ventures as a surprising launch pad into something new.
“I've failed miserably, but I've taken the responsibility on and I've had a good time doing it, you know?” he explained.
“I did a wonderful show called The Beautiful And Damned in the West End and that was part of the West End's blood bath!
“This was the actual year that I got Strictly Come Dancing, believe it or not! That was because of my angst for that show that I ended up the character on the TV that people see today. Isn't it mad? One experience leads to another.”
And his advice for those that are scared of doing something new? Do it anyway!
“If you feel scared of something, maybe challenge your fear of that,” Revel Horwood exclaimed.
“In this life, there is actually nothing to fear. It's a made up emotion! What is the worst that can happen? Nothing. It's crazy. You've got to fail in order to succeed - and I think understanding failure is part and parcel of success.”