Stepping on stage at the Opera House tomorrow night will be a poignant moment for Strictly Come Dancing professional Brendan Cole.
For the New Zealander fondly recalls a trip to the venue as he planned his debut solo tour.
“My first time in the Opera House was when I was in Blackpool for Strictly, although I’d been to the Winter Gardens’ ballroom quite a few times for competitions,” he said.
“I went and had a peek inside; that empty stage and auditorium and I got goosebumps, that I was going to be there in three months’ time on my own solo tour, and it was so exciting.
“It was a very real moment for me, that I would soon have a tour of my own.
“When you see a 40-foot articulated lorry outside a venue with all your gear in it, it fills you with such a cool feeling.”
He’s something of a familiar face now in Blackpool, making the annual pilgrimage to the Tower Ballroom with BBC’s flagship show Strictly Come Dancing - on which he is one of the original dancers, having stayed the course for 11 series over 10 years, competing the last contest with Casualty actress Sunetre Sarker and having won the show’s premier outing with Natasha Kaplinsky.
Brendan’s latest tour A Night To Remember is bigger than ever, with a 14-piece band on stage and eight dancers and, despite the size of the Opera House, he promised an intimate and personal evening - as well as all the dance that his fans love to see.
The 38-year-old dad of one said: “The concept and everything is mine, which is something I’m not sure the others from Strictly do.
“It’s more than fronting a show for me, I’m hands on from start to finish, from casting to directing, to costumes and music choices, everything is very much my own thing.
“It takes us a good year to put it together and seeing it on stage after such a long time fills me with excitement and trepidation.”
And he paid tribute to the local audience: “Blackpool is a fantastic place to come to with the history of dance and it’s a cool town to visit - although I wish it was in the summer.
“The crowds are good and have a bit more knowledge of dance than other places.”
* Brendan Cole: A Night To Remember, Opera House, Blackpool, tomorrow, 7.30pm. Call 0844 856 1111 for tickets.
See our review of A Night To Remember in Monday’s Gazette.