Photo copyright: Joseph Sinclair
Actor Danny Mac studied at Chichester College before gaining a BA (Hons) degree from The Arts Educational Schools in London. Since his Strictly Come Dancing success, Danny Mac has become a critically-acclaimed stage performer and talked to Andrew Peters about the importance of his theatre work and his heartthrob status.
Photo copyright: Joseph Sinclair
Q Danny, you grew up in the seaside town of Bognor Regis, despite your success are you still a small-town boy at heart?
A Almost certainly! But I’ve gone full circle: London definitely feels like my town, closely followed by Liverpool, having split most of my adult life between the two. The idea of being in Bognor forever suffocated me! However, Bognor will always feel like home. I love that work takes me away and it’s a great adventure to leave, but it is so nice to get back, touch base and reload between jobs.
Q Do you recall as a child wanting to entertain people?
A Yes and no. I wanted to, but I had no confidence, so I used to lock myself away in my room and act in the mirror and sing and dance around (terribly)! My schoolmates were all only really into footy and sports, none were into acting, so I kept that a secret from most people. It wasn’t really until I started getting professional work as a young lad that they found out.
Q Who were your icons growing up?
A John Travolta, Michael Jackson, James Bond and Peter Schmeichel! I loved football and always played in goal: Peter was my hero. As for the others, I just remember being entranced by them. From an early age it kept me still and quiet. In a large family it was a blessing for my parents, I guess.
Q Last year you were nominated for best actor in the musical Sunset Boulevard (WhatsOnStage) – how does it feel to be recognised for your work in this way?
A I think that role was a turning point for me. It was a huge responsibility to lead a company in a show as huge as Sunset. Going from television to stage can come with a lot of whispers or preconceptions, and it’s really hard not to doubt yourself in a role so big. So to receive that nod at the WhatsOnStage awards was very touching, and then to take home the Manchester Theatre Award that year really was the icing on the cake of a fantastic journey with a wonderful production.
Q Whilst on Strictly Come Dancing, you followed the previous week’s perfect score of 40 for the Charleston as you became the first ever celebrity performer to get a perfect score for the Samba – how did that feel?
A Wow, that feels so long ago now! It was a crazy night and a moment I’ll never forget. Nothing can prepare you for what a beast that show is. The Samba was the week after Blackpool – which had been our benchmark – and I think I was kind of ready to be voted out and it all be over, so we just went out there and had an absolute party. It wasn’t until the final button of the song when the entire studio exploded and rose to its feet that we knew we had something pretty special. I’ve never felt anything like it. The response to it was massive. Millions of views on YouTube and people still mention it to me.
Q How did appearing on Strictly change your career and open new avenues?
A I think it gave me a new level of discipline: mentally, creatively and in dance, of course. It also made me stronger, both physically and mentally, as well as placing me on a much bigger stage. Having started out in theatre, I think my career would have always had the potential to gravitate back there at some point, but taking part in Strictly allowed me to build a whole new audience, as well as let those who already knew me see that I was capable of much more.
Q If you could dance with anybody (past or present) who would that be?
A Wow. Big question! I think to have danced with Gene Kelly or Michael Jackson would have been truly sensational. Two of the greatest!
Q What do you think (musical) theatre has done for you?
A Well, not just musical theatre but theatre in general, I’ve definitely seen more plays than musicals. The day I first walked into a theatre my mind grew tenfold. It opened my eyes, ears, mind and heart, it changed my perception, changed my expectations and removed my limits. I still find going to the theatre one of the most incredible experiences you can have as a human. Telling stories is essential for us to continue to question and challenge ourselves as a species. And to do it live, in a space filled with hundreds/thousands of others meditating on one story, is phenomenal. I’ve got this crazy obsession with human energy and a theatrical experience is something you can’t really replicate in a cinema or on television.
As an actor, theatre has done all of the above again, but one huge thing for me is that it’s allowed a small-town-boy to experience things I never could have dreamed of. Not just the countless amazing sides of this industry, but also the tough ones: disappointment, rejection, hurt, upset, frustration, anger, doubt. And on a daily basis! It’s nuts, however, I find that strangely I relish it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tough, it’s so tough. I have to remind myself it’s just a job. The older I get, the more I treat it like that: I really do enjoy stepping away now too.
Quick fiveFavourite musical? Les Misérables
Dog or cat? Dog
Telling the time – watch or phone? Watch
Main inspiration? Food!
Can’t leave home without? Earphones
Q Do you pay much attention to social media or any production’s ratings?
A I have done, yes. And as a result I really try not to anymore. I usually won’t read reviews now until after I’m finished with a job, if at all. Some reviews you can’t avoid and others you can but stupidly choose not to!
Everyone can and should have their opinion. But it doesn’t ever serve me to know what that is. In the past I’ve found I’ll even read great reviews and yet I’ll still find a negative ‘between the lines’. It’s insane. So it’s definitely best I steer well clear.
Q What’s the question you never get asked but would like to be?
A Which are you prouder of: your Sexiest Male Award or your BAFTA?
Q You are coming to the end of a tour of Amélie The Musical, what has been the highlight of this project for you?
A Working with this bunch – the most incredibly talented group of actor-musicians – who have blown my mind and made me feel inadequate daily! It’s been fantastic taking on a role so different to any other too. It’s a really special show.
Photo copyright: Joseph Sinclair
Danny Mac Actor Danny Mac studied at Chichester College before gaining a BA (Hons) degree from The Arts Educational Schools in London. This winter Danny is set to reprise his role of ‘Bob Wallace’ in Leicester Curve’s highly acclaimed production of White Christmas for a limited run at London’s Dominion Theatre from 16 November. Danny was most recently seen as the lead male Nino Quincampoix in the UK tour of Amélie The Musical, based on the much-loved, five-time Oscar nominated film.
Other theatre credits include: ‘Joe Gillis’ in the multi award-winning UK and Ireland touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, directed by Nikolai Foster, for which Danny was awarded the Manchester Theatre Award for ‘Best Actor in a visiting production’ and a ‘Best Actor’ nomination at the 2018 WhatsOnStage Awards; ‘Gabey’ in the Olivier Award nominated production of On The Town at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie, ‘Captain Crewe’ in the UK premiere of A Little Princess at London’s Royal Festival Hall, directed by Arlene Phillips and with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra conducted by the composer, Andrew Lippa. In addition, Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, London, ‘Warner’ in the Leicester Curve production of Legally Blonde and Les Misérables at the Palace Theatre, London.
Television credits include: ‘Craig’ in SKY ONE’s hit comedy series Trollied; ITV’s Midsomer Murders and Channel 4’s long-running series Hollyoaks as Mark Savage. Danny’s television work has clocked him up an impressive number of awards and nominations including ‘Best Newcomer’ at the highly regarded National Television Awards, which is voted for by the British public.
In 2016, Danny was a finalist in BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing, thanks to a record breaking partnership with professional dancer Oti Mabuse. He and Oti also took part in the Strictly Come Dancing – The Live Tour, performing to sold-out arena audiences across the UK and were crowned tour winners.