Brendan Cole calls time on big band song-and-dance shows but showman will return

Brendan Cole in Show Man, dancing its way to the Grand Opera House, York, next month

HEADING for York on February 25, ballroom dancer Brendan Cole’s Show Man will be his last big band production after ten years of touring five shows.

Just to be clear, the former Strictly Come Dancing star is not retiring but song-and-dance concert tours on such a theatrical scale will be consigned to the past after Live & Unjudged in 2010, 2011 and twice in 2012; Licence To Thrill in 2013 and 2014; A Night To Remember in 2015 and 2016; All Night Long in 2017 and 2018 and now Show Man in 2019 and 2020.

“This will be my last big band tour after touring for so many years,” says the 43-year-old New Zealander, who will be bringing Show Man to the Grand Opera House next month.

“I’ve loved every second of being on the stage with my friends, who have now become family. It’s time for something different and I’m honoured to be taking Show Man out for one last run.

Taking Show Man out for one last run: Brendan Cole launches the second leg of his 2019/2020 tour

“I’m so proud of this production and I’m going out on a high. If you love live music from one of the best touring bands and exciting and emotive dance, this is the show for you.”

Back on the road from February 19, Show Man draws its inspiration from the magic of theatre and the movies, combining Cole and his hand-picked championship dancers and eight-piece big band and singers with laughter and chat throughout.

Choreography will be high energy, up close and personal, complemented by the lighting and special effects. Expect a cheeky Charleston to Pencil Full Of Lead, a sexy Salsa to Despacito, music fromBeggin’ to Bublé, plus numbers from The Greatest Showman and La La Land.

‘I’m really excited to be bringing back Show Man, having toured this production early in 2019. This is my most exciting tour to date; it’s so dynamic and theatrical, much more so than any previous tour,” says Brendan, who you may remember lifted the very first Strictly Come Dancing glitterball trophy when partnering news presenter Natasha Kaplinsky in 2004.

” I’m particularly proud of Show Man because of its theatricality,” says Brendan Cole

“We have five male dancers, three female dancers, choirs, a violinist and brand new staging, which allows the choreography to be exciting and different; bigger and better lifts, some very strong theatrical numbers, as well as a new-look set. It really is something special. My aim is to wow the audience and give them everything they’d expect and much, much more.”

Why stop doing such big-scale shows now? “I’m giving myself options for the future,” says Brendan, who, by the way, spent the Christmas season in pantoland, playing the Spirit of the Ring in Aladdin at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking. “My days of playing Aladdin are over!” he quips. “I’m not hired for my looks!”

Back to Show Man being his last tour on the grand scale. “The thing is, with these big band tours, I’ve been doing it for ten years now; it takes a year to put each one together and I don’t have the time to do that anymore.

“Since I left Strictly at the end of 2017, I’m delighted to say I’ve been crazily busy. I’m involved in The X Factor, I’m doing some other TV shows. There’s a show that’s just been filmed for Channel 4, though I can’t go into detail yet!”

“There’s that moment I really enjoy, when a dance has just finished, and there’s a hush, as if the audience are almost in a state of trance…,” says Brendan Cole

For now, the focus is on enjoying the second leg of Show Man shows. “It was Katie Bland who came up with the Show Man title, because it’s a show with all the different aspects of dance, taking it on a more theatrical slant and movie influenced too, such as The Greatest Showman and Dirty Dancing.

“Katie said, ‘you are ‘the showman’, and after seeing The Great Showman, I knew I had to include it in the show.”

Not only will there be a big band, but also a choir at the Grand Opera House. “We use local singers, anyone from 12 years old to young adults, and they range in number from 12 to 27 each night,” says Brendan.

Looking back over ten years of shows, “My favourite was my first, Live & Unjudged, when it was very raw,” he recalls. “But I’m particularly proud of Show Man because of its theatricality.”

My aim is to wow the audience and give them everything they’d expect and much, much more,” says Brendan Cole

What comes next for Brendan, the showman dancer? “Something much more intimate,” he says, “One of the things I’ve tried to do is make Show Man more intimate, but that’s a hard thing to do in a big band show.

“But I have no plans for the next move yet, because I’d like some time out as it’s gruelling, taking hours and hours to put the content together and then the company together for a show like Show Man. I want to take some time out with my family.”

Such is his love of dance shows and dancing itself, Brendan will be back. “It’s the magic of it. Creating a story between two people in a dance. That little bit of magic for two and a half, three, minutes. It’s storytelling without words, and as people watch, they create their own stories,” he says.

“It’s the waltzes that I really love. There’s a real beauty to them. Then there’s that moment I really enjoy, when a dance has just finished, and there’s a hush, as if the audience are almost in a state of trance…”

…And, there, in a nutshell, is why Show Man will be a chapter, rather than the closing chapter, in Brendan Cole’s dance story. He has a vision beyond 2020.

Brendan Cole, Show Man, Grand Opera House, York, February 25, 7.30pm. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at

Copyright of The Press, York