HE’S played everyone from a swan to Edward Scissorhands but dancer and actor Richard Winsor is facing a whole new challenge in a genre-defying adaption of Romeo and Juliet which comes to The Lowry next week.

For more than 20 years, Richard has worked with award-winning choreographer and director Matthew Bourne and his new take on Shakespeare’s classic play is something which Richard is particularly excited about.

“Shakespeare’s language is so beautiful and transfers to movement and dance extraordinarily well,” he said. “Matt’s Romeo and Juliet is very different from the classical ballet version. It is very physical and very contemporary; a fresh, new, very modern take on a classic story.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Richard Winsor and Monique Jonas in rehearsals for Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet

In Romeo and Juliet, Richard plays Tybalt, the hot headed, violent cousin of Juliet.

“It’s a lovely role for me being an antagonist for a change,” he said. “I have usually played a romantic lead for Matt so it’s nice to have a different style. It’s also a lot of fun to play a baddie and Tybalt certainly is that. He doesn’t have a lot of redeeming features.”

Playing such a menacing character represents a major challenge as it would be all too easy to stray into caricature.

“There is a fine line,” said Richard. “For someone like Tybalt you have to try hard as an actor to look at his story and work out what has made him what he is. He is a disturbing character, there isn’t much let up there.

“I always try with a character for some sympathy from the audience but I’ve got my work cut out with this one as he’s a real object of menace but it’s a wonderful role.”

One of the key aims of Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures company has always been to attract new audiences to dance and to tell familiar stories in new ways.

Richard is convinced that Romeo and Juliet will do exactly that.

Lancashire Telegraph: Paris Fitzpatrick and Cordelia Braithwaite as Romeo and Juiet (Picture: Johan Perrson)

“People who are put off by Shakespeare don’t need to worry about not understanding the language,” he said. “In this dance production it is all laid out there before you and you can take from it what you want.

“Matt has always been about bringing dance for the masses but there is more than that with this for sure.

“It’s an incredibly famous play and hopefully this version will bring in a whole new audience intrigued by a classic story being told in such a diverse, twisted and topical way. It has also got so much beauty to it as you have the story of unrequited love running through it.”

As well as being one of the leading performers in contemporary dance, Richard will also be well known to TV viewers having played Caleb Knight on Casualty for four years. He also starred in a UK tour of Saturday Night Fever playing the John Travolta role, Tony Manaro.

But the opportunity to work with Matthew Bourne keeps pulling him back into the New Adventures family.

“I started working with Matt in 2001 and did various things with him then I went and did the whole acting career thing then after the pandemic I came back and we worked on The Midnight Bell,” he said.

“It has allowed me to keep that variety in my career. I miss one thing when I’m not doing it, then I miss the other thing when I’m not doing that.

“It’s one of those things that’s a blessing and a curse but I do love both dancing and acting.

“But I’m getting little bit older now (Richard’s 41) so there are not many years I’ll be able to come back and do dance at the highest level so I want to do that while I can.

“I have always loved working with Matt, it feels like coming home to something I know so well.”

Romeo and Juliet will tour the UK until November including a five-week spell at Sadler’s Wells in London.

Then next year the company will tour America, Europe and even China.

“Before you start you just take a deep breath and then you’re off,” said Richard. “Once the show’s running you don’t really think about it as you are just in the middle of it all.

“We do get a couple of months break before going to LA and I’m sure that Matt will be looking at tweaking a few things along the way. It’s always good to keep things fresh.”

Before I let Richard go there is one little fact buried deep in his CV which I have to ask him about - playing James Bond!

“That was a while ago,” he laughed. “Basically I had to be Daniel Craig for six weeks while they were working on the computer game for Quantum of Solace for the PS3.

“They used motion capture so I had to study and walk like Daniel Craig which became the computer game character. It was fun. I’ve done a few things like that but I think that’s the most noticeable. Technically I did get to play James Bond.”

Has he thought about seeing if Matthew Bourne fancies bringing his version of 007 to the stage?

“Wouldn’t that be something?” he laughed. “But I can’t see that happening.”

Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet, The Lowry, Tuesday, July 11 to Saturday, July 15. Details from www.thelowry.com