Part of one of the UK’s most famous theatre families, Zizi Strallen is about to star in the West End production of Strictly Ballroom at the Piccadilly Theatre. I caught up with her for a chat about the show and her favourite styles of dance!
The promo video for Strictly Ballroom looks elegant and opulent. What can audiences expect from the show?
There are definitely parts of the show that are elegant, however there are some amazing comedy dance moments that show the more vulgar sides of the ballroom and Latin world. The choreography is truly incredibly, especially as Scott and Fran start exploring their own way of dancing.
Your character Fran is left footed. Has that caused any problems learning the choreography?
It’s so fun doing the bad dancing, but it is a challenge showing the progression of getting better. You have to time it correctly with the passage of time.
In a previous interview you said that you were gutted you couldn’t audition for Strictly Ballroom. How did landing the role come about?
I was called into an audition for Drew and I was immediately paired with Jonny, which was great! I did a few rounds of call backs before I was offered the role.
You previously appeared in Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man and Cinderella. How was it working with Sir Matthew himself?
Mr B… sorry… Sir B is a genius. He is a ridiculously talented director. The attention to detail is above anything I’ve experienced. Drew reminds me of him a lot.
How different are the two disciplines of ballet and ballroom?
The shows I did with New Adventures were more jazz/contemporary in style. So thank goodness nobody had to experience me doing ballet. Also Fran does more flamenco than ballroom, so I don’t do that much.
Out of the ballroom dances, which one if your favourite style?
Ballroom style. I’d say waltz and Latin. I’d say cha cha.
Another screen to stage role you have starred in was Mary Poppins as the iconic nanny. With film adaptations, how do you match the expectations of the film fans without doing an impersonation?
It is tough, because I myself have the film portrayals in my head, but you just have to stay true to who you think the character is and hope the audience get on board.
Are there any other iconic roles you would like to take on?
I guess I’ve always loved the roles of Sally in Cabaret and also Louise in Gypsy, but I’ve never had particular roles as goals. I just like to go with the flow.
You have also said that you would like to write some comedy sketches. Have you anything in the pipeline?
I’ve been writing comedy sketches for around 5 years, and in the last couple of years I’ve started putting the characters together in a sitcom. I’d really love something to happen with it. That’s my next chapter in life, I think.
You come from an extremely musical family. Your parents were both in the original cast of Cats, your aunt Bonnie Langford is a national treasure and your three other sisters are all storming the West End stage alongside you. I imagine family get-togethers are a real hoot! What is a typical Christmas or get together like in the Strallen household?
My family are usually very lucky to be working around the Christmas period, so everyone’s actually just really tired and it’s usually a day of sleeping and having a big dinner. Unfortunately not the day of singing around the piano that people imagine. Me and my sisters do tend to laugh a lot when we get together though. We have a habit of taking the mickey out of each other, but I love it. It keeps your feet on the ground.
Thanks for having Tea With Wilma
Questions by Harrison Fuller
Buy tickets to Strictly Ballroom at the Piccadilly Theatre here
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