An interview with Tom Parker
Tom Parker talks Grease, The Wanted hiatus and his female inspiration with Sam Bennett.
You’re about to star as Danny Zuko in a UK tour of Grease, starting in a couple of days’ time. In a way I think you’re under more pressure to deliver than other people in musical theatre, because you’ve come from a famous boyband and haven’t worked your way up the musical theatre ladder. People might feel you’ve taken a sneaky shortcut, so it’s like you have to really prove to them you deserve to be up there. Do you feel that pressure?
People of celebrity status do have to go through the same process as other people, so I did still have to audition. I think some celebrities would get roles on status because it sells tickets – business is business at times. But ultimately, when I took this job, I took it because I felt like I could play the part. I wouldn’t have taken it if I didn’t feel like I could add something to the role. That’s the way I look at my jobs – if I feel like I can do it and I can do it well, then I’ll do it. There probably is a time and a place for celebrity roles, and I feel like this is the one that I can add to, maybe…hopefully.
What are the similarities between rehearsing as part of a band and as part of a musical theatre cast?
None. The whole process has been really, really different – but in a positive way. There is definitely a lot more structure in musical theatre, which for me is good because I feel like my life needs that right now.
Do you envisage touring being very different too?
In the band we were all used to tour buses. So when I took this job I said to the production team: “How do we get from venue to venue, do we have a tour bus?” They told me you make your own way there. I was like: “Make my own way there!?” That’s definitely been a bit of a reality check. But again that’s kind of nice because it gives you a bit more independence than someone wiping your backside does.
I don’t know what it’s like to be in a band, but I suppose you are pampered a bit?
Oh my god. You’ve got a tour manager doing something for you; you’ve got someone doing something for you the whole time. When I came out the band, I had to think for myself for the first time in six years, which is such a weird feeling.
The Wanted is on hiatus at the moment; do you still see yourself performing as a band in the future?
I was the biggest fan of our band, I loved that time, I love the boys. I’m pretty sure the opportunity will come around to perform together again, and my name will be first on the list. You’re very dictated to in a boyband, “you do this”, “you do that”, and the schedules are insane. But I feel like you have a lot more control about what you want to achieve when you come back a second time. It isn’t non-stop, relentless interviews and press requests because you have to endear to young fans. When you come back a little bit older, you don’t have that fan base needing a constant reminder you’re there. Look at Take That; they came back with a massive bang, put an arena tour on, without loads and loads of press stuff – it was enough to keep people engaged, but it wasn’t an overload.
Finally, 8th March is International Women’s Day; who’s your female inspiration?
I’d have to say my mum. She has had a pretty shit life, and she’s done phenomenally well to pull herself off the poverty line and create a really good, steady life for herself. She gave us everything and I can always speak to her about anything. If you can’t look up to that, then what can you look up to?
Grease is at New Theatre Oxford from 28th March-1st April.
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