Aberdeen Music Hall hosts tongue-in-cheek British variety show

The cast of comedy musical Crooners, which is being staged at Aberdeen Music Hall on Friday, March 29. (Photo: Jonathan Chamberlain)
The cast of comedy musical Crooners, which is being staged at Aberdeen Music Hall on Friday, March 29. (Photo: Jonathan Chamberlain)

A new comedy musical is bringing British Variety back to the theatre with a very quintessentially British twist to the genre symbolised by the Crooner.

Crooners comes to Aberdeen’s Music Hall on Friday, March 29, with a brand new comedy musical that brings the British song and dance man back to the main theatre stage and has been wowing audiences across the UK.

This comedy musical is a collaboration between comedy writer and performer, Roman Marek, and one of the UK’s most prolific modern swing bands, The Mini Big Band. They are on a mission to lead a return to the British Variety shows of the past and celebrate this very British genre.

“I’m a song and dance man,” said creator Roman Marek. “And I was brought up on the music of the super cool crooners, but also on the quintessentially English stage humour of Morcambe and Wise, Bruce Forsyth, and Max Bygraves.”

Roman has been a Frank Sinatra tribute performer on a major UK Rat Pack show for over seven years and has learnt his craft of crooning well, but felt there was more to offer UK crowds.

“The super cool Sinatra stuff is great,” said Roman. “Audiences love the songs and the acts.

“But I started throwing in the less cool British comedy stuff; tripping up the stairs, telling a joke wrong, and the audience would howl with laughter…this was the way I wanted to perform.”

The show features music of the Rat Pack singers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr, as well as Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin and Britain’s very own crooner, Matt Monro, with a set list of material never before heard in a theatre production.

“We wanted a show that makes British audiences laugh out loud,” said band leader Jon Hibbard. “An all-singing, all-dancing musical comedy the likes of Morcambe and Wise. It’s original, has a swinging big band, and brings variety back to the theatre.”

The show includes the fully live on stage musicianship of the 10-piece modern swing band The Mini Big Band. This is going to be a Truly British Swingin’ Affair.

Also starring is former Manchester City, Wrexham and Northern Ireland midfielder Jim Whitley, who has exchanged his football boots for tap shoes. When injury cut short Jim’s football career he jumped at the chance to get back to his love for music and rekindle his previous experience as a singer.

His love for swing music, The Rat Pack and the Great American Song Book soon saw Jim become one of the UK’s most in demand crooners on the theatre circuit, and he jumped at the opportunity to play homage to his crooner hero’s Sammy Davis Jr, Matt Monro and Bobby Darin.

Jim said: “This is music from a time where men had style and charisma and could sing, dance, and joke like the best of them. What a time for music.”

Jim’s footballing feet have fared him well in his transition from football to theatre and he puts them to good practice in an extended Fred Astaire inspired tap dance routine feature.

Jim admitted: “I’ve always admired the flair and showmanship of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, so I bought some tap shoes! Now, it’s the highlight of my night. I love doing tap dance and learnt the moves off YouTube. It’s very good stuff.”

Jim plays a suave, confident and charismatic English gentleman, completely at ease with the role of a Crooner in this modern world; although things don’t always work out.

“Nobody has done it like this,” Jim said. “We’re playing the music of all the greats, completely live, with an ace band, and throwing in some British comedy that’s had me rolling around in laughter.”

Tickets are available online at www.aberdeenperformingarts.com, visit the box office at His Majesty’s Theatre, the Lemon Tree or the Music Hall, or call (01224) 641122.