Marti Pellow in Norwich show

Emma Knights He was a heart throb to hundreds and thousands of fans in Wet Wet Wet's heyday and now singer Marti Pellow is taking on a devilish new role in a new production making its grand premiere at Norwich Theatre Royal.

Emma Knights

He was a heart throb to hundreds and thousands of fans in Wet Wet Wet's heyday and now singer Marti Pellow is taking on a devilish new role in a new production making its grand premiere at Norwich Theatre Royal.

It is two months until the curtain goes up on The Witches of Eastwick this August in the city but yesterday Mr Pellow took his first trip to Norwich to talk about his new show.

He plays Darryl Van Horne, a mischievous character who seduces three desperate housewives who wish for the man of their dreams in small-town America - with hell-raising results.

The bewitching musical is based on the Warner Brothers film starring Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Cher, and this particular production has been specially created around Mr Pellow, who is no stranger to the theatre stage having appeared in Tim Rice's Chess and starring on Broadway and the West End as Billy Flynn in Chicago.

Mr Pellow explained: “Cameron Mackintosh asked me to see a production of The Witches of Eastwick in America about this time last year. I saw it and that was it.

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“I just fell in love with it. The show is real excitement with a great musical score - and being a musician that is my first port of call.

“I also thought it would be great fun playing Daryl Van Horne. I thought it was something I could really engage my imagination with. The role is just mischievous and naughty, naughty, naughty.”

But he says that theatre-goers should not compare this production with the hit film.

“I saw the film on TV a couple of nights ago and it is a wonderful movie - but it is a different world to our show,” he said.

“If you are looking for a poor man's interpretation of Jack Nicholson's Darryl Van Horne then you should keep your money. This will be my imagination and my interpretation of Darryl Van Horne.

“I said the same thing when I did Chicago and people kept comparing me to Richard Gere who was Billy Flynn in the movie.”

Mr Pellow said he could not wait to open the show in Norwich and was looking forward to sampling the delights of the city - especially the castle, Norwich Cathedral and Norwich's many shops.

“We are really excited about opening here in such a wonderfully refurbished theatre. It is just a wonderful theatre and I am chomping at the bit to entertain you all there. The Theatre Royal is a great champion for theatre in the 21st century,” he said, adding that some of his Wet Wet Wet band mates may well be watching him in the audience.

Wet Wet Wet, which was formed in 1983, became one of the most successful groups of the 1980s and 1990.

The band has sold more than 15 million albums and had 26 hit UK singles including the huge hit Love Is All Around, which featured in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral.

And Mr Pellow was keen to stress that, despite the growing success of his individual career, including a number of sell-out tours worldwide and new solo album called Sentimental Me, Wet Wet Wet was still very much part of his future.

“Of course I am going to meet up with them and do more work with them. I grew up with them and they are my friends. When we make music it is a product of our friendship. That is the beauty of the group. I love those guys a lot,” he said.

The Witches of Eastwick will be the first premiere of a touring show that Norwich Theatre Royal has housed since 2004 when the salsa-based musical Murderous Instincts took to the stage.

Jane Walsh, from the theatre, said: “It is really exciting that the show will be starting here. It is not very often that we have the very first performance, usually we are somewhere in the middle of the run.

“I think it will be a huge success. Tickets are selling well but there are still some available.”

The Witches of Eastwick will be at the Theatre Royal from August 23 until September 6. Tickets cost between £6 and £35.

To book call 01603 630000 or for more details visit www.edp24.co.uk/dailylinks