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GLORIOUS GERSHWIN Written by John Bultitude

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Tom Chambers is fulfilling a teenage dream by starring in Crazy For You, coming soon to Norwich Theatre Royal. John Bultitude finds out more.

y the time the curtain came down on a production of Crazy For You in the early nineties, a 15 year-old Tom Chambers knew his heart lay in performing. He recalled, “It was the very first live musical I ever saw on stage and it just filled me with so much wonder. It was amazing to see what they did with the theatre space and how the story was told.” And in a career that has featured a number of crazy twists of fate, as well as some fantastic roles, Tom is relishing the chance to recapture that teenage dream in playing the lead role of Bobby, a banker sent to close down a failing theatre who falls for the daughter of the building’s proprietor. Determined to win her heart, he adopts the guise of a Hungarian impresario in order to save the theatre. An all-singing-all-dancing story set to a Gershwin soundtrack, it features the likes of They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Bidin’ My Time and, of course, I’ve Got Rhythm. It was a school play that saw Tom tread the boards for the first time. He said, “I was playing football during a school break and the English teacher, who was directing the play, said no one had auditioned for it, so there was a compulsory three o’clock audition. I ended up getting the title role in Dracula Spectacular.” Drama school followed, which included a stint understudying Keith Chegwin in the pantomime, Cinderella, at Basingstoke. Tom laughed, “I thought I was going to get nonstop work!” But things did not quite work out like that. He had to turn down a role in The Bill because they needed an HGV driver, and when he said no to a role in the arena tour of Bob The Builder, his agent fired him, leaving him in a quandary about what to do next. It was the part of Sam Strachan in BBC hit show Casualty that catapulted him to stardom, staying in the role for three years as the fiercely driven doctor who also had a bit of a roving eye. And it was this role that To advertise call 01953 456789

And now Crazy For You is set to take up the rest of his year. Tom added, “Taking on Crazy For You was a no-brainer for me. It is absolutely my favourite musical. I think it has the perfect balance of humour, story and singing. There are so many musicals that are heavy on just one element, but this show has the perfect combination of everything.” led him into Strictly Come Dancing where he partnered Camilla Dallerup, winning the coveted glitterball trophy. Looking back on his time on Strictly, Tom admits a lot of it is a blur. “People ask if I can do a quickstep or a samba. I have to explain that I had a five-day intense work-out on each of those routines. It is such a quick short-term memory injection. If I watch anything online of one of our dances, I am looking at it as if I am watching someone else. At the time, you are performing, your brain is just in flight mode.” After a run in White Christmas opposite Aled Jones, Tom won the part of Jerry Travers in Top Hat, which helped make him a mustsee stage performer. He says the show was a steep learning curve for him, particularly in the early days. During those first weeks, he became ill and realised his diet needed a complete overhaul in order to cope with the demands of such an energetic production, with so many dance routines and songs to perform. But, the hard work was worth it, and the show became a huge success. Since then, Tom has become a sought-after theatre performer, although he reprised the role of Sam Strachan for Casualty prior to the Crazy For You tour. He said, “I loved going back to the show. When I played the part originally, I knew if I wasn’t careful, I would want to stay for ever, as it was a great part with great people. I needed to branch out and fulfil other ambitions, and do a lead role in a musical. Sam is a bit of a rogue as a character and he is fun to play. It is like stepping back into your favourite pair of shoes.”

So, how does Tom feel about going on tour? He said, “Touring is great. You get to see places that you would not normally go to. I always love being anywhere near water, or being near the sea.”

Caroline Flack

And as a big fan of the music of Gershwin, Tom is in performing heaven. “After seeing Crazy For You as a teenager, I went and bought the original score. I used to have a singing lesson once a week at school, and it would be my favourite lesson. When I was at drama school, they used to ask me to stop singing Gershwin! I love Cole Porter as well, but Gershwin has that sex appeal and a bit more pizazz.” To end with the words of his musical idol, Nice Work If You Can Get It! Crazy For You is at Norwich Theatre Royal from Tuesday 31st October to Saturday 4th November. For further information, call the box office on 01603 630000 or visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk www.norfolkonmymind.co.uk

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Norfolk on My Mind - Autumn 2017  

The Autumn 2017 edition of Norfolk on My Mind Magazine. Cover all of North Norfolk, including Holt, Burnham Market, Sherringham, Cromer, Fak...

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