Broadway’s Cynthia Erivo delivers strong performance as guest judge on Strictly

Cynthia Erivo delivered a strong performance as a guest judge on Strictly Come Dancing for musicals week as she replaced Craig Revel Horwood after he tested positive for Covid-19.

The Oscar nominee and Broadway star, 34, was welcomed onto the show with a collage of her career highlights.

Throughout the night, the actress offered supportive comments and constructive criticism to the celebrity dancers alongside the judging panel of Motsi Mabuse, Anton Du Beke, and Shirley Ballas.

A show highlight was when Erivo gave fellow actress Rose Ayling-Ellis, the show’s first deaf contestant, feedback for her dance routine through sign language.

After Ayling-Ellis performed a quickstep to Love Is An Open Door from Disney’s Frozen, Erivo signed a message to her and said: “I think you’re joyful, beautiful.

“That was so much fun to watch and you managed to get all the characterisation and the mood and the feeling all in one. It was gorgeous.”

She also praised Tilly Ramsay on her couple’s choice dance to Revolting Children from Matilda with her partner Nikita Kuzmin, who placed top of the leaderboard with a perfect score of 40.

The actress thought the dance was “awesome”, adding: “That was amazing, so much energy, it was brilliant – I’m done.”

Erivo also offered constructive comments to McFly singer Tom Fletcher after he also danced his couple’s choice but to On My Own from Les Miserables, however, he placed at the bottom with a score of 31.

She said: “There is so much work and love that has gone into this particular performance, but what I’m missing is the heart.

“I know you have it for real, I see that in your reality but for some reason, it’s not connecting in your movement.”

Cynthia Erivo filled in for Craig Revel Horwood on this week’s Strictly Come Dancing (Guy Levy/BBC)
Cynthia Erivo filled in for Craig Revel Horwood on this week’s Strictly Come Dancing (Guy Levy/BBC)

Erivo was well equipped for the role as an acclaimed theatre star who has appeared in Broadway’s revival of The Colour Purple, the Sister Act UK Tour and The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg.

She was also nominated for the best actress Oscar and the best original song Oscar for the film Harriet, and will soon star as Elphaba in the big screen version of the musical Wicked.

Revel Horwood is the latest member of the BBC programme to test positive following a string of absences from contestants in this year’s series.

The show’s co-host, Claudia Winkleman, gave a message of support to the judge at the beginning of the programme, saying: “Craig is not with us tonight, he’s tested positive for Covid-19 but he’ll hopefully be back next week. We will miss you so much, Craig.”

Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One on Sunday at 7:15pm.