Sure, there's a bit of schadenfreude watching the first few episodes of each season's Dancing with the Stars. It's fun to watch celebs — many of whom have excelled at singing, sports, comedy and other arenas (hello, Rick Perry) — discover they've actually got two left feet when it comes to dancing.
But the real magic in the television show is what the professional dancers and choreographers are able to accomplish as they mold their assigned partners into seasoned hoofers. Lindsay Arnold seems to have nailed the winning formula, as she's the first DWTS professional to have finished fourth, third, second and first in four consecutive seasons.
In recent years Arnold has done quite well with her assigned partners: National Guard member Alek Skarlatos, Boyz II Men singer Wanya Morris, NFL player Calvin Johnson Jr. and MLB catcher David Ross.
But last November Arnold, along with singer/actor Jordan Fisher, finished in first place, while also setting the record for having the most perfect scores. They earned solid tens across the board, including from guest judge and two-time professional DWTS champion Julianne Hough. "Most of my seasons, they have no idea what it’s like, working with athletes, some new to the spotlight. But this season with Jordan Fisher was different," says Arnold. "He has performed before; he has been in front of an audience."
Fisher, who cut his acting chops on television's Grease: Live and the Disney Channel's Live and Maddie, made his Broadway debut when he joined the cast of Hamilton in the dual roles of John Laurens and Philip Hamilton. So instead of having to teach basic skills like confidence-building and performing in front of an audience, Arnold was able to fast-forward the learning curve. "It pushed me as a choreographer," says Arnold. "It was more about creating new things."
Now Arnold and partner Fisher are taking it on the road, appearing in the traveling show, Dancing with the Stars: Live! Light Up The Night!, a 300-costume strong dance-stravaganza coming to Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land.
Fan favorite Frankie Muniz also is sharing the spotlight, earning his way into the hearts of many as he's transitioned from Malcolm in the Middle child actor, Kingsfoil drummer and pro race car driver to professional dancer. In spite of suffering from memory loss, concussions and mini-strokes, which may or may not be related to multiple car crashes, Muniz and partner Witney Carson finished in third place in the 25th season of DWTS.
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"It’s pretty incredible. Coming in to it he was not confident," says Arnold, about Muniz's shaky start. "You’ll see in the show, on the tour, he gives it his all; he has fun."
We know Muniz has really worked hard and gotten into shape for his dancing career, but does he have abs yet? "He’s definitely getting some," says Arnold. "Not Artem level, but he's getting there."
Light Up The Night! features ensemble numbers, solos, duets, and about 20 costume changes for each dancer. "Basically you’re going to see maybe ten to 12 dances. You’ll see dances that you’ve seen before on television," says Arnold. "The rest of the show is the pros getting together. You’ll see dance styles — every dance style — that's what’s really fun. It’s fun, it’s hard, it’s intense and there’s a lot going on, and it’s all packed into an hour and 45 minutes."
Dancing with the Stars: Live!, Light Up The Night! is at 7:30 p.m. February 24, Smart Financial Centre, 18111 Lexington Boulevard, Sugar Land, 800-745-3000, smartfinancialcentre.net or ticketmaster.com, $55 to $599.