Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Culture: Dreamer Marti Finds Himself at Devilish Stage

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Culture: Dreamer Marti Finds Himself at Devilish Stage

Article excerpt

WE'VE got biscuits!" remarks Marti Pellow, on entering our interview room at the Leeds theatre where he was starring in The Witches of Eastwick before its transfer to Sunderland next week.

They'd immediately caught his eye, as they had mine (I'd had no lunch) but Marti doesn't look as though he's ever indulged in many biscuits.

At just-about-to-turn 44, the Wet Wet Wet frontman turned solo artist turned musical performer, is tanned - he spends a lot of his time in LA - and looks fit and healthy, those much documented dark days of drug-taking consigned to the past.

Likeable and chatty as we meet before the show, Marti's strong Glaswegian accent disappears immediately - as I later find out - when he turns on the American tones and dons the sharp suit as the devilish Darryl Van Horne, seducing and corrupting all-too-willing ladies.

Based on the late John Updike's novel, which was turned into a hit film in 1987 starring Jack Nicholson alongside Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon and Cher, the musical revolves around three somewhat desperate housewives falling under the spell of a new man in town.

Marti loves the demands of the role and the fact live theatre is something completely different for him. "With Witches of Eastwick, you're forever growing in it. It's a great piece," he enthuses. And it's a role he's very much made his own: "If people come to see Jack Nicholson, they've been misguided."

It's not the singer-songwriter's first foray into the world of musical theatre. He's successfully morphed from pop star to leading man in the musical Chicago - via his solo career and last year's jazz-infused In A Sentimental Mood love songs album and concert tour, which stopped off at The Sage Gateshead, attracting a real mix of Wet Wet Wet fans and jazz enthusiasts.

Because he has that loyal fan base, they've been willing to accompany him on a journey, says Marti. It's one which shows "a different side to me".

After the role as Billy Flynn in Chicago took him from the West End to Broadway, Sir Tim Rice asked him to play the Arbiter in his musical Chess. Since then, "I've been looking for another project to do".

The demands of singing aside - a very different discipline from pop - the role sees Marti strut, swagger, even crawl during Van Horne's seductive destruction, before a change of tone in the show's second half has him swearing and venting fur y. …

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