Strictly star steps out on to Sunset Boulevard

Danny Mac, Ria Jones and Adam Pearce in Sunset Boulevard
Danny Mac, Ria Jones and Adam Pearce in Sunset Boulevard

Danny Mac is known as a soap actor who nearly won Strictly and now is starring in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Sunset Boulevard, which comes to the Sheffield Lyceum next week.

In fact musical theatre is where it all started for him.

Danny Mac with partner Oti Mabuse. Picture: Press Association.

Danny Mac with partner Oti Mabuse. Picture: Press Association.

“My first professional appearance was in Les Miserables in Southampton and then in the West End when I was about nine or ten,” he reports. “That experience kept me committed to what is a tough and in some ways crazy industry. As a teenage boy there was a lot of other stuff going on and none of my friends did it.

“It was like committing to my own personal passion and my parents saw that I had that and they encouraged me without pushing me. It wasn’t until I was 18 and went to drama school that I found my feet.”

Straight from graduating he went into the West End production of Wicked and stayed for just under two years before being cast as Mark ‘Dodger’ Savage in Hollyoaks and was soon earning the title of Sexiest Male at various TV soap awards. After leaving Hollyoaks he went on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2016, making it all the way to the final but being pipped by Ode Oduba.

Sunset Boulevard is a story of romance and obsession based on the 1950 Billy Wilder film set in the Hollywood mansion of faded silent-screen star Norma Desmond whose reclusive fantasy world impoverished screenwriter Joe Gillis stumbles into and becomes seduced by her luxurious lifestyle.

I was surprised how honest and respectful it was to the original film

Danny Mac

Danny Mac, playing Joe opposite Ria Jones as Norma, admits he knew little of the film. “I got the show’s script and was impressed and then listened to the original soundtrack. I found my own interpretation and then went back to the film and was surprised to see how honest and respectful it was to it and some of it is actually word for word. It says a lot about how good the film is.

“Of course the musical is different with group numbers and so on.”

The production uses a lot of projections including the famous opening sequence involving Joe and a swimming pool – to say more would be a spoiler.

“People are quite surprised by the ending if they don’t know the film,” he observes. “It’s all there to see and even if you know the story it leaves it to your own interpretation, it’s sufficiently vague.”

Danny Mac as Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard

Danny Mac as Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard

Danny Mac pays tribute to the team work behind the production directed by Nikolai Foster which premiered at the Curve in Leicester last September. “I only signed up as far as December but it became apparent to me how much I was invested in the show and was willing to carry on to the end of the tour here in Sheffield.”

Last year he resumed his stage career in On the Town at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

There had been talk of him and his wife Carley Stenson (whom he met on Hollyoaks and is now in Les Mis in the West End) opening a musical based on the film, Sleepless in Seattle, but it was postponed last year. What he will be doing, however, is the UK premiere of the Little Princess at the Royal Festival Hall in May, a concert version directed by Arlene Phillips, co-starring Sherlock’s Amanda Abbington and featuring the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.

He reflects that Strictly “was massive for me” and opened up a wider fan base than his young following from Hollyoaks and Wicked. “It’s nice to have people come up to you and talk about the show who are any age from four to 90.”

Sunset Boulevard is at the Lyceum from Monday to Saturday.