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Former Manchester City and Norwich midfielder to star in new musical comedy in Cromer

PUBLISHED: 09:29 22 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:07 22 February 2018

The musical comedy Crooners, which is coming to Cromer Pier on March 30. Photo: Digi-Steve Photography

The musical comedy Crooners, which is coming to Cromer Pier on March 30. Photo: Digi-Steve Photography

2015

Former premiership midfielder Jim Whitley will be swapping his football boots for tap shoes, when he stars in Crooners, a brand new comedy musical coming to Cromer Pier on March 30.

The musical comedy Crooners, which is coming to Cromer Pier on March 30. Photo: Digi-Steve PhotographyThe musical comedy Crooners, which is coming to Cromer Pier on March 30. Photo: Digi-Steve Photography

Mr Whitley, who played for Wrexham and Northern Ireland and made eight appearances with Norwich City while on loan from Manchester City in 2000, returned to his love of performing after injury forced him to permanently retire from the pitch.

A big fan of swing, the Rat Pack and the Great American Song book, he soon became a hit on the theatre circuit and jumped at the chance of paying homage to his heroes Sammy Davis Jr, Matt Monro and Bobby Darin in the new show.

The musical comedy Crooners, which is coming to Cromer Pier on March 30. Photo: Digi-Steve PhotographyThe musical comedy Crooners, which is coming to Cromer Pier on March 30. Photo: Digi-Steve Photography

“This is music from a time where men had style and charisma and could sing, dance and joke with the best of them,” Mr Whitley said.

As well as singing classic songs, the soccer star, who has portrayed Nat King Cole in previous shows, will also be performing an extended tap routine as part of Crooners.

Former footballer Jim Whitley in Crooners, which is coming to Cromer Pier on March 30. Photo: Digi-Steve PhotographyFormer footballer Jim Whitley in Crooners, which is coming to Cromer Pier on March 30. Photo: Digi-Steve Photography

He said: “I always admired the flair and showmanship of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly so I bought some tap shoes and now it’s the highlight of my night.”

The show, which is stopping off at Cromer as part of a 55-date tour, is written by and stars performer Roman Marek, who began his career as a dancer and singer in the Cromer Pier Show.

Former footballer Jim Whitley with Roman Marek and Phil Barley in Crooners, which is coming to Cromer Pier on March 30. Photo: Digi-Steve PhotographyFormer footballer Jim Whitley with Roman Marek and Phil Barley in Crooners, which is coming to Cromer Pier on March 30. Photo: Digi-Steve Photography

“Cromer is where I first discovered my love for British variety and making people laugh and I’m pleased to be returning to the town to pay homage to the great variety heritage of the pier,” he said.

Crooners features top swing group The Mini Big Band and includes more than 20 classic tunes, ranging from Mr Bojangles and Mac the Knife, to the 1959 Bobby Darin hit Beyond the Sea.

Footballer-turned-performer Jim Whitley playing for the Canaries in 2000. Photo: SIMON FINLAYFootballer-turned-performer Jim Whitley playing for the Canaries in 2000. Photo: SIMON FINLAY

It follows the story of three very British gentlemen who exude crooner characteristics; suave, self-assured and stylish, they defend their roles in the modern world.

“Nobody has done it like this”, Mr Whitley, 42, said. “We’re playing the music of all the greats, completely live, with an ace band, and throwing in some British comedy that will have audiences rolling around with laughter.”

Crooners is at the Pavilion Theatre, Cromer on March 30 at 8pm. Tickets, priced £21.50, are available from the box office on 01263 512495 or from www.cromerpier.co.uk

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