Raymond Gubbay knows a thing or two about staging opera, ballet and classical music, and his latest show, One Night in Vienna, which performs twice in Glasgow tomorrow, has called on the talents of Alexandra Worrall, pictured right, one of the country's leading choreographers and directors.
Worrall, it turns out, is herself from Glasgow. She trained at London's Royal Ballet School and danced with the Royal Ballet and Northern Ballet before embarking on a career in musical theatre. Her CV is extensive, covering everything and everyone from Wayne Sleep and A Doll's House to Pygmalion, We Will Rock You and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and it is easy to see why she has been called upon to direct and choreograph Gubbay's latest show.
One Night in Vienna is a romantic show full of dance and music and colour: Strauss's The Blue Danube Waltz, of course, but also his Radetzky March, Thunder and Lightning Polka, the Streams of Lava waltz and the Laughing Song from Die Fledermaus. The show features conductor Rainer Hersch, soprano Charlotte Ellett, the Johann Strauss Orchestra and, in period costume, the Johann Strauss Dancers.
Worrall, who now lives in Brighton, said: "The dancers' dresses are gorgeous and, probably more than anything else in the show, will take the audience into that world, transport them into the grandness of Viennese life at the time of Johann Strauss.
"We haven't set the show in any particular time though it is, roughly, in the mid-19th century, when the industrial revolution was beginning to get going and a huge amount of money was being generated."
Gubbay's Vienna show has been a success ever since it made its first bow since the early 1970s, and Worrall and Hersch have both been given free reign to devise the show as they saw fit. Tomorrow's double concert at the Royal Concert Hall, incidentally, comes less than a fortnight after Ashley Page, formerly the critically acclaimed artistic director Scottish Ballet, choreographed Vienna State Ballet in the globally-televised New Year's concert from the Musikverein in Vienna. Worrall was born in Glasgow and was raised near Kilmacolm. "I was there until I went to the Royal Ballet School in London, and after that I was in Manchester for the Northern Ballet. Then I got the chance to work with Wayne Sleep's company, Dash, and knew it was a chance I just had to take. Suddenly, the world of musical theatre opened up to me.
"I have done a lot of things since then, and my career has progressed, though it has kept me in London. I think it was Billy Connolly who once said that the further away Scots go from home, the more Scottish they feel, and that is definitely the case with me. I'm definitely Scottish, not just British.
"I still have a cousin in Glasgow and I still see friends back home. My oldest friend lives in Fraserburgh – but with me in Brighton and her up there, we unfortunately don't get to see each other very often."
Worrall once worked as an assistant choreographer under Gillian Lyne, the dancer and choreographer, on a number of hit stage shows. Lynne once said: "I like work and I work all the time," and this has been taken to heart by Worrall.
Her distinctive CV includes not only stage shows but also a spell as backing singer and dancer to Cliff Richard on his From a Distance tour, as well as appearances on TV shows as diverse as The Bill, Top of the Pops and various Royal Variety Performances. She worked with Arlene Phillips on Terry Jones's 1996 film, The Wind In The Willows, and with Derek Deane on Strictly Gershwin for English National Ballet at the Royal Albert Hall.
She recalls fondly her time with Dash "because that was my first insight into commercial theatre, but I also remember the time when I was 12 and I was dancing in The Nutcracker at Covent Garden, and Rudolf Nureyev came to pick us from the Royal Ballet School. That was amazing.
"I did meet Princess Diana once, and that was very special, because she was such a good friend of Wayne's. I was warming up on stage and I just heard this voice behind me say 'Oh, hello, Alex'. I wondered how she know my name but my tracksuit bottoms had my name on them. We had a little chat, and all I could think of at the time was 'I'm talking to Princess Diana, and I'm just warming up!' That was lovely.
"Workwise, I have probably learned the most from Gillian Lynne. She choreographed Cats and Phantom of the Opera, and has done lots of film and television work. I assisted her for quite some time on a number of projects and her musicality and theatricality were a huge influence on me."
Worrall's next project sees her return to the West End show, Midnight Tango, with Strictly Come Dancing stars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace; it is at London's Phoenix Theatre between January 30 and March 2 before touring. She will tour with it until the start of August.
"After that, there's nothing else in the pipeline," she says, but she does not sound too concerned. "I have to say I've been very lucky, these last couple of years. It just seems to keep rolling on very nicely. I'm glad I have managed to keep going in a job I love."
One Night in Vienna, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, tomorrow, 3pm and 7.30pm. Tickets, £18.50-£29.50, 0141 353 8000