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While American TV viewers know Utah native Derek Hough primarily from his work on "Dancing With the Stars," he's not a newcomer to musical theater.
"I actually moved to London when I was 12 years old and went to a theater arts college," said Hough, who attended the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts for six years. "And I did a lot of West End [productions]. I did plays and musicals out there."
Hough has a prominent role in NBC's production of "Hairspray Live!" He stars as Corny Collins, the suave host of an "American Bandstand"-like teen dance show who backs efforts to integrate his show in the early 1960s.
"And I think this Corny is going to dance a little bit more," the "Dancing With the Stars" veteran said with a smile. "A little bit more not a lot more."
A role in "Hairspray" is where he thought his career was headed when he was growing up. The "Dancing" gig was sort of a fluke although it has brought him considerable fame and two best-choreography Emmys (along with five more nominations).
"I never wanted to be, necessarily, a choreographer or anything like that," he said. "It was one of those kind of 'fake it until you make it' or become it in my case, I suppose."
(Hough has left "DWTS" for a new TV gig. He'll be a judge on NBC's new "World of Dance" competition show alongside Jennifer Lopez (who also produces) and singer/dancer Ne-Yo when it premieres in 2017.)
Long before his first appearance on "Dancing With the Stars" in 2007, he was in the London company of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." And at age 20, Hough played the lead role in the West End production of "Footloose: Musical."
"I was there for about a year and a half, actually," he said. "That was a pretty vigorous role. A lot of fun."
And Hough couldn't contain his excitement about "Hairspray Live!" and the opportunity to return to musical theater "to be among such incredible artists and human beings and people to, sort of, elevate and to reignite that sort of musical passion."
He's part of a cast that includes Jennifer Hudson, Kristin Chenoweth, Ariana Grande, Martin Short, Billy Eichner, Sean Hayes, Andrea Martin and Rosie O'Donnell.
"Can you believe it?" he said with a smile. "That's pretty great, right?"
Hough had been talking with executive producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan about several projects for years, but nothing worked out until now.
"This is just one of those things that made perfect sense," he said. "It's a perfect role for me."
Coincidentally, he'll be the second member of the Hough family to perform in a live television musical this year. His sister, Julianne, starred as Sandy in "Grease Live!" back in January.
Hough said didn't sign on to "Hairspray Live!" because of his sister, but her experience made him more certain of his decision to join the cast.
"She said, 'Absolutely, do it. It was the best time ever,' " Hough said. "And seeing her experience and how positive it was just made it an absolute no-brainer."
The fact that both of them have gone from "Dancing With the Stars" to starring in TV musicals isn't all that unusual, Hough believes.
"We come from live theater back in London and, obviously, doing live television with 'Dancing With the Stars,' " he said. "So the hybrid of the two bringing theater to television is a natural transition."
He's still hoping to transition onto Broadway as the male lead in "Singin' in the Rain," although the debut of that revival has been delayed. (It may premiere sometime in 2017.)