This will be the third national tour for one of Dancing with the Stars' most popular pros, Cheryl Burke. Even before the fifth season ended at the end of November, the two-time champ started tour rehearsals and then packed up to hit the road again — without a single day off. There was just one fly in the ointment: A health scare the night before the tour's big opening night in Seattle on December 18th. After cramping on stage during final run-throughs, Burke was rushed to a Seattle emergency room and diagnosed with possible appendicitis. Thankfully, it wasn't. And after getting cleared by her family doctor, Burke is back on tour and in winning form.
To be accurate, maybe the tour should be called "SoftScrub Presents Dancing — and Singing — with the Stars." Because Las Vegas legend Wayne Newton is on board, giving the show the added dimension of an old-fashioned variety romp. Newton, 65, says he loved learning how to dance and wasn't ready to go home when he got voted off the show in Week 3. Still recovering from a heart infection, Newton won't be dancing anytime soon. But give this man a microphone and he has no trouble owning the stage.
To start things off, a chat with Cheryl Burke...
TVGuide.com: Since you started on the show (in Season 2), have you had a break?
Cheryl Burke: I had three or four months off after the second season. But after the third season, I went straight into the tour. And then straight into the fourth season, and then straight into the tour again, with maybe five days in between. This time, there was no time off between the show and the tour. I'm still answering messages I haven't returned in the last four months.
TVGuide.com: That's three years straight without a break. Isn't that too much?
Burke: I want to take advantage of it while it's here. And what better way to go than to do what you love to do?
TVGuide.com: But everybody needs a vacation.
Burke: When they asked me to do the tour again, I said, "Let me get back to you on that." Because we'll be doing a good two months on the road, and practicing on top of that. It's a huge decision, but I love to perform. I love to be with my friends and experience what we experience on the road. They put us in the best hotels, even if we don't get to stay there very long. And if we have to fly, we fly first class. If we want a certain kind of food, we can have it.
TVGuide.com: Is it challenging to get enough rest on tour?
Burke: I can sleep on the bus. But it's hard to sleep after the show because there's so much adrenaline. We all just want to stay up and have fun. We get to the hotel [in the next city] at, like, two or three in the morning and we just crash.
TVGuide.com: You won't be dancing with Wayne Newton this time, because of his health concerns.
Burke: That's right. But he'll be singing on tour, which will be amazing.
TVGuide.com: So the audience gets more bang for the buck?
Burke: He's Wayne Newton. Come on, are you kidding?
TVGuide.com: You won Season 2 with Drew Lachey. How do you feel about dancing with Drew again?
Burke: It's so much fun. He was my first partner. And it's never the same after that. The third season was great [with her second winning partner, football legend Emmitt Smith], but it's still never the same. Being with Drew is like being at home.
TVGuide.com: And unlike many of the celebrity dancers, he's kept in fighting shape.
Burke: He's the only winner who's still dancing. He still loves to do it. For him, it's a joy. I don't even have to teach him. He's like my professional partner. We just get the job done.
TVGuide.com: The pros seem to really enjoy each others' company.
Burke: We've all known each other since we were little kids. We've been competing against each other, so it was very catty, you know? But now, even during the show, we don't have time, because we're constantly with our celebrities. And on tour, all we do is perform every night and it forces us to really be with each other and find out that these are really great people. We've become really close friends. We've never really had a chance to go out and share an adventure.
TVGuide.com: Are you particularly close to anybody?
Burke: I love Kym [Johnson] and Edyta [Sliwinska].
TVGuide.com: The tour ends mid-February, and the rehearsals with the show's new celebrities start immediately after that. Are you looking forward to going back to the show?
Burke: Yes, if they ask me. And if they do, as soon as we get back, it's right back into the sixth season of Dancing with the Stars.
TVGuide.com: Once again, no vacation.
And checking in with Wayne Newton...
TVGuide.com: Looking back at Season 5, were you surprised by how difficult the competition turned out to be?
Wayne Newton: I didn't have a clue. I knew it was going to be difficult — probably "time consuming" is a better choice of words. And I knew it was going to be intense. But I think the intense part was [what] I wasn't ready for. When you consider that you're rehearsing that many hours a days and applying that amount of energy to something that's going to last a minute and 20 seconds, that's the part that really did not sink in until I was involved in it.
TVGuide.com: How did your body react to those rehearsals?
Newton: Physically, it wasn't difficult for me at all. I was in good enough shape. I wasn't sore and achy. If anything, I think I was just a little tired.
TVGuide.com: And then you got sick.
Newton: Right. That whole last week of the show I wasn't breathing well. I actually got sick four days before I got eliminated.
TVGuide.com: And you never said anything?
Newton: You don't talk about those things. I learned a long time ago — I was doing a television show called The Wonderful World of Burlesque. And I had a bad cold. And Danny Thomas said to me, "You're not feeling well, are you?" And I said, "No, I'm not." And he said, "Do you tell people that when you go on stage?" And I said, "No." And he said, "Good. Because they don't need to hear it. They're here to get over their own problems, their own physical and personal problems, and they sure as hell don't need to hear about yours."
TVGuide.com: But you signed on for the tour?
Newton: I had signed on before I started the show. But I'm glad I did. I think everyone thought I was kidding when they asked [after the show], "What are you going to miss most?" And I said, "I'm really disappointed that I'm not going to be able to do the paso doble." That's why I was looking forward to the tour."
TVGuide.com: Even if you're not dancing on tour, will you be back in Cuban heels?
Newton: As a matter of fact, I have not unpacked my dancing travel bag at all. I'm ready to go. I feel more prepared than I did when I was doing the television show. It's been such fun. And then when I went home, I was able to watch and be a little more objective. I'm so thrilled and proud of the other people on the show.
TVGuide.com: How does Dancing stack up with everything else you've done in your career?
Newton: It's different than anything I've ever done. I've never done anything that was this demanding in such a short period of time. I also had never done anything that gave me this kind of recognition. The street recognition from that show is unbelievable. I took my wife and daughter to the movies. I went in a baseball cap, very incognito, and by the time I realized it, there was a line of people waiting for autographs. It's just a revelation what that show means to the public.
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