Grease will light up Brighton this Christmas!

Danielle Hope (Sandy), Tom Parker (Danny) and Louisa Lytton (Rizzo). Photo credit Paul Coltas
Danielle Hope (Sandy), Tom Parker (Danny) and Louisa Lytton (Rizzo). Photo credit Paul Coltas

Forget all the behind you’s and ugly sisters.

Grease will be the Christmas show at Brighton Theatre Royal as the venue continues its non-panto policy (December 11-31).

Leading the cast will Tom Parker, who spent six years in the boy band The Wanted and is now enjoying his first musical-theatre adventure.

Tom reckons the show will be the perfect Christmas treat.

“You picture Grease as a summer show, but actually I think it is one of those feel-good shows that will work brilliantly whatever time of year it is. You just come out of the show feeling happy!”

Tom certainly does.

“I was with The Wanted for six years, and theatre had never really crossed my path, but the producers of Grease came to my management and said would I like to come to audition for the Teen Angel part.

“I went along to the auditions and they came back and asked if I would like to play the part of Danny.

“I can’t say I had had a lot of theatre experience, but I went in with an open mind, and I worked on myself. I went to some acting classes, and I was just really keen to spread my wings.

“When you do something for so long, like I did with The Wanted, when you come out of it, it is a bit like going into the unknown.

“It was a scary time in some ways, but like I said, I was wanting to spread my wings, and this was just completely coincidental.”

Had he been cast as the Teen Angel, then undoubtedly, he would have been happy, Tom says. But now he is Danny, he wouldn’t take any other role. It’s a great part to play.

He quickly felt at home on the stage: “For someone that is used to being on the stage with a successful pop band, you do feel at home I think – even if you are doing something different.

“And Danny is such a fun character to play. It’s a really tough one to play, though. It’s such an iconic role. It’s about finding a balance between putting your own stamp on the character and also giving people what they want and know from John Travolta in the film.

“John Travolta made the character so iconic. You want to give people what they have come for, but also you don’t want to be just copying what he did.

“Personally, I feel I am playing the character a bit younger than John did. I am playing him much more as the 16-year-old he is supposed to be, but while still trying to include some of that John Travolta swagger.”

Eight shows a week, two on a Friday and a Saturday, it has all proved harder than Tom thought it would be: “But that stage feels like home even if it is actually very different to being on stage with a band in front of your own fans.”

He feels he has come a long way since starting out in the role back in March.

“I am so different now! If you could look at my first performances, I was like a petrified little kid. I can remember exactly how I felt.

“It was my first-ever musical-theatre show. I was just concentrating on not forgetting the words, but now I feel so much more comfortable and can trust in my own ability. The next time I do a show I won’t have that doubt that you get when you have never done a show before.”

And so yes, this is where Tom sees his future career going.

“I am having conversations about a few different shows for next year. I didn’t really know what to expect with this one because I didn’t really have anything to compare it with, but now I really can compare and know that I will enjoy it.”