It is perhaps fitting that Ore Oduba is playing a character called Happy Man as Pretty Woman the Musical delights theatregoers in Manchester.

For as he himself admits, he’s never had a role that he’s been more suited to.

Ore’s journey from TV presenter to musical theatre star via winning Strictly Come Dancing would probably be the basis of a good theatre show in its own right.

Bury Times: Ore Oduba as Happy Man in Pretty Woman (Picture: Marc Brenner)

But the man who started off on Newsround is clearly in his element in the biggest role in his stage career to date.

“I really don’t think I’ve been in a role that feels more suited to me,” he said. “I’ve not stopped having fun from the day we started rehearsing.”

Based on the classic movie starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, Pretty Woman the Musical follows the unlikely romance of Vivian and Edward - she’s the good time girl down on her luck and looking for love; he’s the rich sophisticate whose life is empty.

Ore actually plays two key roles in the show.

“As Mr Thompson I’m the hotel manager who appears to look down at Vivian but really acts as a kindly old uncle to her,” he said. “Then there’s Happy Man, a Fagin-type character who knows everyone on Broadway and who makes the magic happen.

“For me I’m just so lucky - it’s like free play time every night. It’s a chance to interpret a role but I can also have all the fun doing it. I feel very lucky and very grateful that it’s dropped in my lap.”

Pretty Woman is the third musical Ore has been involved in which has been inspired by a cult movie.

He has previously starred in Grease and, memorably in the Rocky Horror Show.

“I think I’ve got a few more layers on for this show,” he laughed. In Rocky Horror, Ore played the nerdy Brad Majors who spent much of the show in his underwear.

“You know I’d not considered the fact that all three shows were based on hit movies before,” said Ore. “But there is a common thread there - you do have a room full of up to 2,000 people who are buzzing to see the show before it’s even started.

Bury Times: Ore Oduba as Mr Thompson in Pretty Woman 
                                                              (PIcture: Marc Brenner)

“Some people may have seen Pretty Woman in the West End - and it’s been great to ride on its coat-tails and take it on tour. But what we have learned from the outset is that a large proportion of the audience are absolutely barmy about the movie.

“They come along and are ready to be transported back to 1989. There is so much nostalgia in the room; it’s about everything that the movie meant to people when they saw it for the first time and more.

“There is such a buzz about this show. We feel it from the stage and also when we meet people at the stage door who tell us how much the film means to them.

Bury Times: Ore Oduba and Natalie Paris in Pretty Woman (Picture: Marc Brenner)

“I went to my dentist before the tour began and when I told her I was off on the road for a few months, she asked what the show was. When I told her she said ‘that’s my favourite film ever’ - see they are everywhere!”

Diehard fans will be pleased that the musical does not take any liberties with the original storyline.

“I think there can be times when a musical is based on a movie and there is a tendency not to do what is expected just for the sake of making it different,” said Ore. “But with Pretty Woman, the best reference point you are ever going to get is that film.”

The one big change is the fact that the show is a musical with songs co-written by Bryan Adams.

“The songs just add something extra,” said Ore. “It gives us the chance to refocus on this fairytale of a woman following her dream.”

Because the original film is so well loved, with that comes additional respo0nsibility for the performers.

“Every time you go out there on stage you have a responsibility to deliver,” said Ore. “What is so great about this show is that no matter what kind of day you have had - and that’s both as a cast member or audience member - you can park it at the door and just go into this other world. It’s really magical.”

Some people may still be surprised to see Ore’s name on the poster for a major musical. For TV audiences he will always be remembered for winning Strictly in 2016 when he was partnered by Joanne Clifton.

“I am professional in every single job and every area I have ever worked in,” he said. “I always want to bring the best of myself and the best out of those I work with and honestly I try not to worry what other people think of me.

“When I first started out on stage I know it was a big jump and although going from Strictly into a big role was an obvious step, I understand why people might have thought ‘can he cut it?’

“I was the same. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t stuff it up and as I’ve gone along there has been an upward curve as far as the roles are concerned and I’m loving it.

“There is a responsibility that goes along with any role and it is a serious business but at the same time, doing this job, I also get to have fun.”

Pretty Woman the Musical, is at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, until Saturday, March 16. Details from