Anna-Jane Casey has experienced many things in a stellar theatrical career from being a leading lady in West End musicals to dressing as a goose and sharing a stage with Sir Ian McKellen in panto.

But nothing could have prepared the Rossendale-born singer and actress for her latest role - as the female MC in a show which has taken London by storm.

Bury Times: Anna-Jane Casey

What makes it even more remarkable is that AJ only had nine hours rehearsal time before she was on stage in Magic Mike Live at the Hippodrome.

The brainchild of Hollywood star Channing Tatum, Magic Mike Live has been running in London for five years and constantly sells out.

AJ got an emergency call after Christmas after one of the female MCs was injured.

“My friend Tim Reed who I’d worked with on Chicago is the general manager for Magic Mike and he rang me just before Christmas and said ‘what are you doing for the next eight weeks?’

“I knew he was working on the show and said ‘why, do you need me to come an oil some torsos?’. He said ‘it’s better than that, come and be on the show’.

“I’d not seen the show although I was aware of the film Magic Mike. I really didn’t know what to expect. My husband keeps joking it’s a stripper show but it really isn’t.

“I went to see it and knew straight away that I wanted to be part of it. Yes, you are seeing some beautiful men with their tops off but it’s a very different show from anything you think it’s going to be.

“It features 90 minutes of the most highly-skilled choreography and aerial work. All the lads are athletes at the top of their game when it comes to dancing or a musical performance. It is amazing.”

Having decided she would like to be part of the show, AJ had to send a tape to Channing Tatum in America.

“He is heavily involved in everything,” she said. “He started out as a stripper and is now an A-lister in Hollywood. He wouldn’t let a show with his name attached to it be naff.

Bury Times: The cast of Magic Mike                                                    (PIcture: Matt Crockett)

“He saw my tape and was happy for me to be part of the show.”

That left AJ with just three three hour rehearsals before taking to the stage.

“That was a bit tight to say the least,” she said. “And even though I’ve been doing it for a few weeks now it’s still a bit squeaky bum time but I love it.”

As MC, AJ has a crucial role to play ensuring that the audience has a great time but that nothing gets out of hand.

“You are a bit like a conjurer,” she said, “you can influence the way everyone behaves. You are part stand-up and also part mum as well. I talk to the audience and have a real interaction with them.

“A lot of the MC is scripted but there are some opportunities to ad lib.”

AJ said that touring in Mother Goose with Sir Ian McKellen and John Bishop last year has helped with that.

“Oh, definitely,” she said. “You are as much of an audience member as anyone else so I’ll sit with them and chat to them. I remember their names and give them a shout-out. It’s a great thing to do.”

Ironically AJ was also called in to star in Morther Goose after comedian Mel Gidroyc was forced to pull out.

“You have just always got to be ready for anything I suppose,” laughed AJ.

Although Magic Mike is hugely popular with women, it is not just a girls’ night out.

“Far from it,” said AJ. “It’s a really safe space for men and women. It’s very different from fellas on stage just whipping their trousers off. It’s much more Cirque de Soleil that it is the Chippendales.

“What is lovely is that when I leave the theatre so many people come up and say it was such a wonderful thing to see because they didn’t expect it to be that.

“Mind you I do have to wear ear plugs on stage because the women can be deafening at times.”

Having sung with leading orchestras and taken major roles in the West End, has AJ learned anything from being in Magic Mike.

“Oh definietly,” she said. “I do feel that if Children in Need rang me tomorrow I could do two hours live to camera without a problem. It really has enhanced my skills as a presenter that’s for sure.

“I can’t say too much about what happens in the show as that would spoil it but I do want to stress it’s not tacky; it’s not lads with Velcro trousers just whipping them off in front of an audience. I wouldn’t be associated with anything like that and I’m proud to have been part of this show.

“There really is something special about it.”

The Hippodrome Casino has been transformed into an intimate nightclub reminiscent of Hollywood in the 1930s for the show.

“I had done my own cabaret show there,” said AJ, “so I knew the space but they have spent a fortune on it - it’s incredible what they have done to the room.

“And from the moment you arrive, the whole environment is so respectful to everybody. You are escorted to your table, you are even escorted to the toilet - it’s proper classy!”

AJ will be in the show until the end of February.

“I could only commit to a short run and hopefully the original female MC will be recovered by then.

“But it’s been a great experience and I have learned a lot.

“I’m 51 now and I’m old enough to be everyone’s mum which is hilarious. But honestly the boys are just so talented.

“The show’s been in the Hippodrome for five years and they are doing 10 shows a week and sell out nearly all of them - that’s how popular it is. There’s a real buzz about the show and what the performers do is gobsmacking. I think it will go on for years.”

Cabaret over, what can AJ look forward to next?

“I have something really exciting lined up,” she said, “but I can’t say what it is yet. It’s going to be announced shortly so I have to wait until then.”