OTI Mabuse is on a roll. The double Strictly Come Dancing champion has been touring this year with her own show, I Am Here, and now she’s choreographing a hotly anticipated new production celebrating superstar Cher’s extraordinary life.

Directed by Arlene Phillips, with a book by Tony and Olivier Award-winning Rick Elice (of Jersey Boys fame), The Cher Show arrives at Bradford’s Alhambra theatre this autumn.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Millie O’Connell, Debbie Kurup and Danielle Steers in The Cher Show. Pic: Mike CrockettMillie O’Connell, Debbie Kurup and Danielle Steers in The Cher Show. Pic: Mike Crockett

It’s the story of Cherilyn Sarkisian, the shy daughter of an Armenian American truck driver, and her journey to being an Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress, pop goddess and queen of reinvention. Cher takes the audience’s hand and turns back time, introducing them to the influential people in her life; from her mother and Sonny Bono to costumier Bob Mackie, and recalling how she battled the men who underestimated her and defied convention.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Cher and Cher Alike. Pic: Pamela Raith PhotographyCher and Cher Alike. Pic: Pamela Raith Photography

And of course there’s a cracking soundtrack. Packed with over 30 of Cher’s hits - including If I Could Turn Back Time, I Got You Babe, I Found Someone and Believe - it’s part show and part party.

“It’s the story that so many women connect with, but it’s also the songs and the clothes. It will be epic!” beams Oti.

“It has to be bigger than anything because it has to live up to Cher’s iconic status. She has been such an inspiration to so many people, this musical is going to be a celebration of everything people love about her.”

It’s down to Oti to weave that star quality into the choreography - a challenge she’s thrilled with. “What I love about choreography is that, when I’m dancing, I am only part of the picture, but when you are choreographing, there are so many elements that are so exciting,” she says.

“Creating a storyline through dance means you go through the smallest details - is there a connection or a secret between the dancers that we need the audience to share? What props are there? What is the dancer at the back of the stage doing?”

As for the music, Oti’s exuberance ratchets up yet another notch when she starts talking about Cher’s hits: “I grew up with a family that always listened to music and we all loved Cher’s music. Her songs have stories behind them and I LOVE choreography that has a story behind it! It has an intention you can then give to the movement. It makes everyone in the theatre part of the story. And everyone connects to Cher’s music because it is timeless. She is timeless!”

Adds Oti:“The show starts from the beginning of her life and comes to present day, so if you don’t know Cher’s story you will learn it. There are so many great songs that will make people feel uplifted too.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Oti, Arlene Philips and costume designer Gabriella Slade. Pic: Oliver RosserOti, Arlene Philips and costume designer Gabriella Slade. Pic: Oliver Rosser

Oti, 32, took her first solo dance show, I Am Here, on the road this year. “I love touring and the audiences make it for me. People have paid to come and be entertained and it’s lovely to do that; to create a memorable moment in their lives,” she says, adding, with her infectious chuckle: “When you tour in the UK you learn crazy things like whether you put cream or jam on a scone first. I love hearing the different accents and the way people greet each other depending where you are. I think touring is the best way to understand human beings!

“All the theatres are so supportive of people who come to put a show on; they’re so welcoming and so, so hard working. After lockdown and the terrible time that theatres had, it is so lovely to be taking The Cher Show on tour.”

Oti’s own rise to fame has been pretty meteoric. Born in South Africa, she started dancing as a child and went on to become the undefeated eight-time South African Latin American champion. While competing in dance competitions, winning awards and championships across Europe, she trained as a civil engineer.

A TV career beckoned when Oti joined the German version of Strictly Come Dancing. After two successful seasons, she joined Strictly in the UK and quickly became a fan favourite. In 2019 she won the coveted Glitterball trophy, with former Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher, and the following year Oti became the first Strictly pro to win two consecutive years, in a memorable partnership with comedian and musician Bill Bailey.

Oti, who was also a winning dance captain on BBC1’s The Greatest Dancer and a panellist on ITV’s The Masked Dancer, announced to fans’ dismay, that the 2021 series of Strictly would be her last, and this year she was a judge on Dancing on Ice. She juggles all this with running the Oti Mabuse Dance Studio!

“I have a lot of things I want to achieve in life and I’m lucky that my parents raised me to be driven and ambitious. But my goals come from a good place and I really enjoy the journey of pursuing my dreams,” she says. “For instance, there were very few books about dancing for children, so I wrote one. Anyone who hires me knows I will be the hardest working person in the place.”

Was performing always the dream - or civil engineering? “I wanted to go into musical theatre straight from High School, but my mum said I should be first academic and then pursue my passions. Since she was paying the bills, I didn’t have much choice!” smiles Oti. “Engineering and dance are both about problem-solving and precision and I love them both equally. I’d love to do a TV show about it.”

A TV show about engineering told through the medium of dance? If anyone can pull that off, it’s Oti.

* The Cher Show is at the Alhambra from October 25-29. Call (01274) 432000 or visit bradford-theatres.co.uk