Having adored her stern attitude while on the panel of judges for Strictly Come Dancing, we’re thrilled she’s bringing her gift of gab to the stage.
Since shimmying into our hearts in the ’70s with the dance group Hot Gossip, Arlene Phillips has spent more than four decades choreographing the West End’s top shows. She has too many award-winning film, TV and music video credits for us to list here, so we’ll just drop a few names: Elton John. Whitney Houston. Freddie Mercury.
We recently had the chance to chat to her about all that and get the inside scoop about Arlene! The Glitz. The Glamour. The Gossip. which she’ll be touring across the UK this autumn.
What has been the proudest moment of your career?
Arlene Phillips: Receiving my CBE for services to dance and charity.
You’ve choreographed everything from The Wizard of Oz to Saturday Night Fever – do you have a favourite show you’ve worked on?
AP: If I have to pick a favourite, it has to be Starlight Express. It was my first big show, and crazily it was on roller skates (and still going to this day).
How was judging on Strictly Come Dancing? Do you have a favourite contestant, routine or style of dance from your time on the show?
AP: I loved judging on SCD, one of the highlights of my career. I have so many wonderful memories but watching Vincent and Flavia dance the Argentine tango gave me goosebumps, and the excitement of Darren Bennett and Jill Halfpenny winning the competition with their thrilling jive I will always remember.
Isn’t it about time we had a Hot Gossip reunion? Would you be up for that?
AP: I don’t know how the dancers from Hot Gossip would feel about a return to dancing, but we have many reunions. The most recent being a screening of Can’t Stop the Music at the IMAX for BFI Flare film festival, a movie starring The Village People and Bruce Jenner, which I choreographed and Hot Gossip danced in. It brought back very many happy memories.
What’s your secret to having maintained such a long career in such a cutthroat industry? What advice would you have for young people just starting out?
AP: I get my head down and work hard and try to fulfil whatever is required of a choreographer. For young people starting out, never give up on your hopes, your dreams and your goals, but remember, nobody said it’s going to be easy!
In your new show Arlene! The Glitz. The Glamour. The Gossip., you’re in conversation with Jacquie Storey – how did the show come about and do you guys go way back?
AP: I taught Jacquie Storey at Arts Educational School where I was teaching American jazz. Fast forward some decades, we bumped into each other at an event and as we were chatting, she asked so many questions about my life and career that we dreamed up the show, The Glitz. The Glamour. The Gossip.
In the spirit of the new show, who is the most glamorous person you have ever met?
AP: I think it has to be Diana Ross. Everything about her was impeccable, with glamour glittering all over her.
Can you give us some good gossip as a teaser for what audiences can expect from the show?
AP: I never thought that learning to roller skate when I was seven months pregnant in Hollywood would lead to a show that is about to mark its 30th birthday in Bochum, Germany. And how that happened is as good as gossip gets…
Why should people buy tickets?
AP: For anyone who loves dance, musicals, films, music videos and some jolly good stories from behind the scenes, it’s the ticket to get. The show will be an insight into showbusiness and some fabulous fun.
Catch Arlene! The Glitz. The Glamour. The Gossip. in cities across the UK from 5 September. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.co.uk.