Todd McKenney’s currently juggling a national tour of Annie: The Musical, judging duties for Dancing With The Stars and an upcoming two-night stint at the Palms at Crown with the Australian Pops Orchestra.

Speaking to the Star Observer (at our second go at an interview, such was the fullness of his schedule), he admitted it was a slightly overwhelming workload.

“I choose a project a day, and that’s the only way I can look at it. We open Annie tonight, so today’s an Annie day; tomorrow’s a Pops Orchestra rehearsal day, the day after’s all about Dancing With the Stars,” he said with a slightly weary chuckle.

Why, then, with his schedule filled with long-running commitments to a TV show and a musical, did McKenney sign on for the Australian Pops gig?

“When you’re in a long-running show doing the same thing day in, day out, you search for other avenues to express yourself,” he explained.

“I’m working on the Pops shows with Chloe Dallimore who’s playing my girlfriend in Annie, so we can rehearse a bit [during Annie].”

McKenney admitted part of his decision to tackle the Pops shows was because he still can’t quite believe he’s now recognised in the industry as a singer just as much as a dancer.

“Because I come from a dance background, whenever I get booked for these big orchestra gigs I always think they’ve booked the wrong person. There’s something really thrilling about standing in front of that many musos, feeling the power of the orchestra.”

Teaming up with musical director John Foreman for the show, McKenney promised an informal night’s entertainment (“It’s a really palatable way for people to be introduced to orchestras, I think. It’s not too up itself.”), mixing much-loved Boy From Oz songs with tap-dancing Singin’ In The Rain tracks and a few surprises.

There’s even been talk of an ABBA medley — sounds camp.

“Well, I’m in it, so it’s bound to be! Camp’s my middle name. I get away with a lot more fun than straight people,” he chuckled.

When last we spoke to McKenney, he mentioned that given his reputation as the harsh judge on Dancing With the Stars, it was nice to get back on stage to remind people he’s got the chops to back up his withering critiques of the D-grade celebs who strut their stuff on the show.

He confirmed that nothing had changed on that front.

“The power of TV is really mysterious to me. I did an interview at the Annie press call with three young guys for a web thing.

“They said, ‘Now you’re known as the harsh judge on Dancing With the Stars, but what I think a lot of people are going to be surprised to learn is that you do musical theatre’.

“I thought, yes, this is only about my 20th musical!”

INFO: Australian Pops Orchestra, Palms At Crown, Melbourne, May 18 – 19.

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