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Grease is the word for The Wanted’s Tom Parker

Grease's T-Birds. Photo: Paul Coltas

Grease's T-Birds. Photo: Paul Coltas

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We chat to two of the stars of Grease, visiting Ipswich Regent this week - The Wanted’s Tom Parker and ex EastEnders actress Louisa Lytton.

Max George, Siva Kaneswaran, Jay McGuiness, Tom Parker and Nathan Sykes of The Wanted. Photo: Jeremy Plumb Max George, Siva Kaneswaran, Jay McGuiness, Tom Parker and Nathan Sykes of The Wanted. Photo: Jeremy Plumb

He may be wowing audiences as Danny in Grease at the Ipswich Regent right now, but Tom Parker hasn’t ruled out reuniting with his The Wanted band-mates.

Shooting to fame in 2010, Tom, Max George, Siva Kaneswaran, Jay McGuiness and Nathan Sykes broke fans’ hearts when they decided to take a break in 2014.

“I would definitely get back in the band, I loved the boys. We’ve spoke about it, we’re all still in contact. It’s just picking the right time. I’m concentrating on Grease and want to do a few more musicals, then who knows?”

Known for hits like All Time Low, Glad You Came and Chasing the Sun, it’s been nearly four years since they’ve toured or released a record.

Grease cast members Danielle Hope as Sandy, Tom Parker as Danny and Louisa Lytton as Rizzo. Photo: Paul Coltas Grease cast members Danielle Hope as Sandy, Tom Parker as Danny and Louisa Lytton as Rizzo. Photo: Paul Coltas

“A lot of people said we could’ve gone on longer and they weren’t ready for it to end but I feel like we’d left it at the right time, we left on a high, we didn’t drag it out. When the conversation arises my name will be first on the list because I loved performing our songs.”

Tom, who never visited Ipswich during his years with The Wanted, had pharyngitis just before arriving at the Regent and was ordered to take time off by a doctor.

“Singers do get it quite commonly. The only thing to do in that situation is rest. If it were down to me I would have soldiered on. I’m a bit of a workaholic, I’d rather not take time off to be honest - I love being on stage.”

He said he’s learnt more about his voice in the last six months than he has during his six years in the band.

The cast of Grease. Photo: Paul Coltas The cast of Grease. Photo: Paul Coltas

“It’s a totally different style of singing. When I used to be in a band the maximum singing we would do in a week was probably three times, four at a push. I really struggled with the stamina, at first, but I really took the time to learn how to do it. My voice has changed stylistically from where I’ve come from, I’ve learned more about my voice in the last six months than I did for six years when I was in the band.

Tom is making his musical debut as the T-Bird troublemaker.

“The audience opening night were wicked. When I first came out of the band I didn’t really know what direction I wanted to go. Now this opportunity’s come up I feel like I’ve found an avenue I really enjoy.”

He did a bit of acting when he was younger, but when you’re part of a band singing becomes your world

Go Grease Lightnin' Photo: Paul Coltas Go Grease Lightnin' Photo: Paul Coltas

“That whole period of my life I was just a singer, so when the opportunity (to do Grease) came up it was definitely something that was out of my comfort zone. I’d not done any musical theatre before. For the first six weeks I felt a little bit out of my depth, I feel like now I really deserve my place. I’m always learning something every day about not just my own performance but other people’s so that’s good.

“When I first came into it I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t know I would enjoy it this much. I don’t think I would do a tour to this extent. I’m getting married next year, by the time we’ve finished it will be 10 months on tour so it gets tough being away from home and I was away from home pretty much for six years of The Wanted. I’d love to do something maybe a little bit shorter or something in London, who knows. I definitely want to do more, do something a little bit different and get some more experience in different areas of musical theatre.”

Touring’s a great way to get out of some of the wedding planning though?

“I went to see the wedding caterer this morning, it nearly drove me insane,” he laughs. “Oh my God, I hated it. We had a conversation about flowers ont he way back. The mother-in-law was there, the auntie (saying) ‘flowers are expensive’. I was like ‘but why are, you wear them for a day and you’re chucking them in the bin. Makes no sense to me.”

Louisa Lytton as Ruby Allen in EastEnders. Photo: BBC / Adam Pensotti Louisa Lytton as Ruby Allen in EastEnders. Photo: BBC / Adam Pensotti

Tom thinks the character of Danny is more relatable than people credit. He feels there’s a bit of Danny in every guy.

“They give it the front but, actually, underneath it all they’re all softies for the girls and they don’t really want to show that in front of their pals. I’ve really enjoyed playing him. I tried not to copy John Travolta because even though you want to portray the same characteristics as he played in the film I’m not John Travolta and I would never be. I really enjoy my version of it, some people like it and others won’t but it works.”

His favourite Grease song used to be Greased Lightnin’ but it’s now Mooning. “It’s such a pretty song. It’s really beautifully written and they do the song a real credit.”

Louisa Lytton, who plays the sassy Rizzo, is having just as much fun in Ipswich; adding first nights in new venues are always a bit scary. She doesn’t read reviews.

Tom Parker as Danny and Danielle Hope as Sandy. Photo: Paul Coltas Tom Parker as Danny and Danielle Hope as Sandy. Photo: Paul Coltas

“I learned from an early age that reading reviews can sometimes really have an effect on your performance. You spend all that time rehearsing and working with the director so I think once you get the show to the level where the director’s happy then that’s all that I really worry about. Everybody has a different opinion,” she laughs.

The actress, perhaps best known for playing Ruby Allen in EastEnders, feels lucky to play Rizzo; adding she’s one of the best characters in the show and film.

“She’s very memorable and for me it’s nice to play someone different. I normally play the innocent, girl next door role. She’s got a bit more grit, a lot more experience. She’s had a terrible upbringing and she’s fighting against who it is she’s destined to be.”

Despite training in musical theatre from a young age, Louisa excited to finally be starring in a musical. She wouldn’t be against revisiting the role of Ruby - “there’s so much you could do with her if I returned” - or a different soap, she laughs.

Grease's Pink Ladies. Photo: Paul Coltas Grease's Pink Ladies. Photo: Paul Coltas

Greased Lightnin’ used to be her favourite track too.

“Doing the show we get to perform Grease is the Word as the opening number. The whole cast are on stage, it’s really powerful and the audience go wild so to be honest I’d probably say that’s now my favourite.”

Voted the number one greatest musical, Grease features smash songs like You’re The One That I Want, Summer Nights and Greased Lightnin’.

It continues until October 7. Review here.

Eastern Angles Christmas show has a reputation for creating affectionate spoofs of cultural classics. Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to producer Tim Bell about having fun with The Ladykillers.

DanceEast commissioned a real Christmas treat from choreographer Jane Hackett when they asked her to develop her idea of turning Mary Norton’s much-loved children’s novel The Borrowers into a dance-theatre production.

The Ladykillers is one of British cinema’s golden classics – an Ealing comedy that appears to be rosy on the outside but as soon as you dig beneath the surface its humour is as black as coal. This Christmas Eastern Angles and Shanty Theatre have decided to give this dark caper movie a modern and a local make-over.

If you haven’t sent Santa your Christmas list yet, pop tickets for this festive-fuelled fairytale on it first.

It’s not Christmas without a visit to Red Rose Chain’s The Avenue Theatre. We spoke to writer and director Joanna Carrick and actors Emma Swan, Darren Latham and Ryan Penny about The Elves and The Shoemaker.

A great panto starts from the moment the audience enters the auditorium and starts looking at the set laid out before it. Arts editor Andrew Clarke talks to designer David Shields about the art of creating a larger-than-life panto world

DanceEast is staging the premiere of a new dance-theatre production of the children’s classic The Borrowers. Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to director Jane Hackett about putting dancers in the middle of an animated world

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis says Greg Davies, live in Ipswich as part of the You Magnificent Beast tour, is one of the funniest stand-ups she’s seen.

Robert Wright throughly enjoys Dick Whittington, this year’s panto offering at Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal

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