The Mercury weren’t messing about when they chose the creatives of its new show.

And although both director Tyrone Huntley and choreographer Oti Mabuse are making their theatrical debuts (of sorts), their wealth of experience makes them a real feather in the cap for the Colchester theatre.

It also has made Ain’t Misbehavin, which starts its run next week, one of the most talked about shows of the year.

Tyrone is feeling the pressure, a little.

“I do feel a little bit like it’s being thrown in at the deep end,” he smiles, “but in a really good way. Taking a full scale musical into London, I think it would be a little odd if I wasn’t feeling the pressure but the team here have been incredible and I’ve honestly been buzzing coming into work each day.”

Making his directorial debut, Tyrone is best known for his acclaimed performance as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, for which he won the Evening Standard Theatre Award and received an Olivier Award nomination. Tyrone is soon to appear in Leave to Remain at the Lyric Hammersmith with other performing credits including Angry at the Southwark Playhouse and Dreamgirls in London’s West End.

“Judas came out of nowhere really,” Tyrone says. “I was supposed to be playing another role, one of the priests, and the guy playing Judas had to pull out at the last minute. I got a call from the producers for a call back and got the part three days before rehearsals started.”

Oti Mabuse is also making her debut, but as a theatre choreographer.

She is perhaps best known as a professional dancer on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing since 2015, but is also an eight-time South African Latin American Champion and one of the most successful South African dancers in the world.

And if that wasn’t enough she’s also one of the Dance Captain and Mentors on BBC One’s new Saturday night dance and entertainment show The Greatest Dancer, in which she helped 14 year-old Ellie Fergusson to the title.

“I’ll be honest,” she tells me. “I didn’t realise I was doing the choreography for a show. My agent told me about this job and I said ‘sure, why not’ but I thought it was a one-off concert. So when I found out it was this huge musical thing, it was a little intimidating.”

Surely not that intimidating?

“Ok,” she grins, “it was an exciting challenge but still a challenge. I have loved every minute of it but it’s very different to doing Strictly. For a start what is with all the breaks. Tyrone calls half an hour here and then an hour there. What for? There’s no breaks in Strictly, straight through baby.”

Although she’s starting to get used to it.

“I’ve started to buy the biscuits and make the tea myself,” she laughs.

Tyrone adds: “Even when we’re taking a break the cast are still going through their numbers, checking routines and harmonies, it’s that kind of a show, it’s infectious.”

The brand-new production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ will be the first London revival in almost 25 years, playing at Southwark Playhouse from April 19 to June 1 after its two-week run at the Mercury.

Celebrating the legendary jazz musician Fats Waller and his energetic, exuberant and effervescent music, the show steps back into the 1920’s and the raunchy nightclubs of Manhattan. The group of performers go on a journey through a defining period of American musical history, the Harlem Renaissance – where musicians were free to experiment with new styles, and joints were jumpin’ with talented dancers, singers and instrumentalists jamming to a new beat known as swing.

Which has given Oti plenty of fun researching her moves.

“When I first started out,” she adds, “I was getting a little carried away with myself sticking in flips, kicks, jumping in the air, matching the vibrancy of the music. Then I realised this is a singers’ show, 90 per cent of it is sung through. These guys are amazing but they need to keep their stamina so I began re-thinking it from that perspective.”

It’s been a bit of a learning curve for Tyrone as well.

“I’ve been in plenty of rehearsal rooms,” he says, “so I have an understanding of what’s involved but with a show such as this there’s so much to get involved with. It’s bringing it all together. I can’t wait for people to see the show as it’s going to be a real blast. I think they’ll love it.”

Ain’t Misbehavin’ runs at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, from Friday, March 15, to March 30, at 7.30pm with matinees at 2.30pm on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Tickets are priced from £14 to £27, available from 01206 573948 or on-line at