'Dubs stars saluted me at Copper Face Jacks for role in Coppers musical' - Johnny Ward
Copper Face Jacks: The Musical is back, and Johnny Ward will be swapping the sequins for a GAA jersey as he returns as Dublin captain Gino Wildes.
The Walkinstown actor, who was a runner-up in Sunday's Dancing With The Stars final, hasn't had much time for a breather as he's gearing up for his return to the Olympia Theatre in July.
Johnny plays Gino, who falls head over heels for a Kerry girl he meets on a night out in Coppers only days before the All-Ireland final clash between Dublin and the Kingdom.
Johnny (31) is looking forward to stepping back into Gino's shoes, especially as he got the Dubs' blessing for the role.
Johnny said the Boys in Blue and their captain Stephen Cluxton arrived at the final night last summer to see the play, written by Paul Howard.
When Johnny arrived at the actual Coppers for the after-party, he was greeted by the players saluting him.
"All of them, led by Stephen Cluxton, came to see the last show last year and we went into Coppers afterwards and they were all there, down on one knee, saluting me," said Johnny.
"I was basing it on so many of them and it's funny because it was slapstick, but they were all saying, 'A lot of that stuff is true'.
"Stephen Cluxton is such a nice guy and of course I've got to know Denis Bastick through Dancing With The Stars."
Johnny will be joining Michele McGrath, who plays Gretchen Ackerman, and Roseanna Purcell, as Noeleen Nic Gearailt, on stage.
"He falls in love with a girl called Noeleen and she's from Kerry, and then it becomes like Romeo And Juliet and West Side Story all in one," said Johnny.
Meanwhile, it's back to normality for the former Love/Hate star, who said it felt strange not to have rehearsals with pro partner Emily Barker this week.
"I'm OK. It's strange to get back to normal life," he said.
"It's weird because you get nervous because you think you've a dance to learn but you don't have a dance to do."
Johnny, who lost his dad during the show, said his mum had been unwell this week and as a result was in hospital for a few days.
"I feel like I'm cursed. My mum's in hospital at the moment," he said.
"She had something wrong with her heart. She seems to have had a panic attack or something like that. She went in on Tuesday.
"I don't think it's anything serious. She's in Tallaght Hospital. It's like someone has put a curse on us."
Johnny said he would be moving back into the family home to help his mum in the next few weeks as they begin to clear out his dad's belongings.
"It's difficult being in the house. We're trying to get everything that was my dad's and clear out his clothes. You feel so guilty for doing it but you have to do it," he said.
Copper Face Jacks: The Musical will return to the Olympia Theatre from July 10 and will run until August 10.
Tickets costing from €26 plus booking fee and €1 Olympia restoration levy are on sale now.