Sussex dancer reflects on superb West End debut

Christopher Black
Christopher Black

Originally from Crawley and educated in Horsham, dancer Christopher Black is looking back on a fabulous experience with his London debut at the Palladium.

Christopher enjoyed three weeks in Sinatra, The Man & His Music, a multimedia stage show celebrating Frank Sinatra’s music and centenary alongside a 24-piece orchestra and a company of dancers.

Christopher Black

Christopher Black

The show is being billed as “the closest anyone will get to seeing Sinatra perform live” – and Christopher can proudly say he was there.

It was a fairly quick casting process, involving three or four recalls – and then Christopher was in as part of the ensemble: “It’s a beautiful show. It’s really spectacular with all the music and the dance. It is just stunning. It’s a life story and concert in one. It is all the big numbers – ‘New York, New York’, ‘My Way’ and so on – and we are there to help to portray the story and the big moments in his life.”

For Christopher and the dancers, the challenge was the range: “It goes from soft-shoe shuffle to swing to lyrical jazz to absolutely everything. It has got to reflect what was happening in his life at the time.

“It was quite challenging, but the choreography was so good… though there is one where we all land on the floor gasping for breath!”

Inevitably you have to look after yourself: “But the company has been very good. If you can feel something niggling at you, you can trust in the people looking after us. As a general rule, a dancer will know not to push a certain area that might be playing up, like an ankle or whatever. But it has been an amazing experience.

“I am originally from Crawley, but my family moved to Horley about 14 years ago.”

But it was Crawley that shaped him as a dancer. It was there he attended Stages Performing Arts: “It was my aunty that owned the dance school. She told my mum ‘You need your Saturdays off to go shopping.’ She told my mum to drop me and my sister off. I started at the age of three.”

At the age of 16, Christopher went to Collyer’s in Horsham to do A levels before going on to do a degree in musical theatre in Kent.

“I have been very lucky. I didn’t get to go to my graduation because I was put on a ship to do Hairspray. It was absolutely amazing.

“You do get bored of ships eventually when it is time to move on, but I was on ships for four years and then came back and then I did a tour around Germany in like a revue show. And then I got the Sinatra show.”

Sinatra, The Man & His Music, continues at the London Palladium until October 10.

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