INTERVIEW: Marti Pellow is both Jekyll And Hyde in Southampton

Wet Wet Wet superstar Marti Pellow gets two roles for the price of one in the latest chapter in his triumphant march through the musicals.

Marti is unleashing his darker side as both Jekyll And Hyde in the Leslie Bricusse show of the same name at the Mayflower, Southampton (March 28-April 2).

Alongside his pop star success - which included the massive 1994 hit Love Is All Around on the Four Weddings And A Funeral soundtrack - Marti has since gained even more acclaim across a string of top musicals, including Chicago and The Witches Of Eastwick.

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“It’s something that has come to me late in my career,” he says. “It is a testament to my fan base that they have afforded me the luxury, that they have let me go there.”

Especially with Jekyll And Hyde.

As Marti says, it’s not exactly a big toe-tapper. It’s something considerably darker, in every sense. “90 per cent of it is set at night.”

For Marti, it offers a considerable vocal challenge. Jekyll and Hyde - two halves of the same personality perhaps - still need to be strongly individualised vocally.

“I always saw Hyde as having a carnality to his voice”, says Marti. It’s not simply a question of dropping your voice by an octave. It’s much more complex than that. Ditto Jekyll, in whom - and into whose voice - Marti has got to interject vulnerability - “a vulnerability that I hope people see in themselves.”

The point is also that Jekyll is also a man obsessed, determined to rid the world of evil - with disastrous consequences.

For Marti as a Scot, Robert Louis Stevenson’s celebrated tale is almost a rite of passage, but to bring it the stage means upping his game: “When you do something like this, your bag of tools changes.”

The songs are so different in structure to, say, Chess: “I went to my bag of tricks and I thought ‘Ah, I haven’t got that!’ I had to really explore my voice.

“The great thing about embracing this role is that I have got no hope in hell of being in Groundhog Day. There is just so much meat on the bone. It’s a real testament to the score. Leslie played me the concept and I thought ‘These are great songs!’ For me, it has to be first and foremost about the music.”

And for Marti, the music continues on his own score. Last year, amid the musical commitments, he brought out a solo project - and already he is thinking about the next one.

“The next project that I am trying to get my head around is embracing music from my own country, some Celtic music. I have always looked across the pond. Now I want to take what I have learnt in America and take it back to my own heritage and let the circle be complete.

“I would love to take that journey back,” says Marti who envisages drawing on traditional material and also penning some of his own.

Marti’s career began when he formed the band Wet Wet Wet with his school friends, which went on to become one of the most successful and highly acclaimed bands in British pop history.

The band enjoyed consistent chart topping multi-platinum albums and have been nominated and won major industry awards including the Ivor Novellos and The Brits.

As well as a critically-acclaimed solo career, Marti has gone on to star in the West End, on Broadway and on national tour in the smash-hit stage musicals Chicago and The Witches Of Eastwick. He also co-starred with Josh Groban in the TV and film special Chess in Concert and most recently gained huge personal accolades from his performance on BBC Radio 2’s Elvis Forever concert.

Glamorous, sexy and deliciously wicked in equal measures, Jekyll And Hyde is based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic gothic novella. Pellow stars as the brilliant but obsessive scientist whose sadistic alter ego wreaks havoc across Victorian London in a dark tale of love, redemption and the seductive power of evil.

Written by Frank Wildhorn with book and lyrics by the Academy Award-winning composer Leslie Bricusse (Stop The World I Want to Get Off, Scrooge, Doctor Dolittle, Victor/Victoria, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), and featuring the hit song This Is The Moment, the Broadway production of Jekyll and Hyde ran for over 1500 performances between 1997 and 2001.

Tickets for Jekyll And Hyde are available on 02380 711811.