Roman Marek can’t wait to show off new show Crooners to his hometown Ipswich
- Credit: Jonathan Chamberlain
Entertainment writer Wayne Savage talks to Ipswich-born performer Roman Marek about his new tour, Crooners.
Performer Roman Marek can’t wait to bring his show Crooners to his hometown of Ipswich.
“To show off a little for friends and family, I’ll probably be a little more nervous with the added pressure of knowing half my audience and presenting to them something so personal to me but I’ve complete confidence in my show and my fellow performers.
“It’s gonna be an absolute blast. So if you’re a fan of the Rat Pack and swing music and love a bit of Morecambe and Wise-esque humour, Crooners is for you.”
Former Westbourne High School student Roman’s family still live in Ipswich, although he’s relocated to Stoke-On-Trent with his wife Rebecca and three-year-old daughter Nancy.
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After high school he took a performing arts course at Suffolk College.
“My dad was the one responsible for my performing as a young boy as he got me involved with the Dennis Lowe pantomimes at the Felixstowe Spa Pavilion on a yearly basis. My love for the theatre grew and my father and I shared the stage in countless pantomimes with the company and many musicals with the Appeal Theatre Group at the Wolsey theatre.”
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One of Roman’s favourites was Pal Joey, a musical originally starring Frank Sinatra.
“I was lucky enough to land the lead role in this production, I think I was about 16 or 17 at this point and had some pretty big shoes to fill. This is were my love for swing and jazz came about and all I would listen to was Sinatra and all I wanted to be was a crooner like him.”
After college he landed his first professional contract at Cromer Pavilion, in a seaside spectacular.
“As a dancer not quite the singer yet. But I wasn’t a bad tap dancer as I was also a massive Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire fan as a kid and spent countless hours in my bedroom watching them dance on VHS, rewinding, pausing and copying their moves - who needs real dance lessons when you have Fred and Gene to teach you.
“After that I landed a role in a Channel 5 soap Family Affairs. The kudos was great, getting a regular acting role on such a show but my heart wasn’t really in it, I needed an audience so I went on my way to Benidorm and appeared in a comedy act with now good friend Simon young, called Dame Lucy Bunny and Reg. It’s here I got to sing, finally and find out I was also quite adept at making people laugh too.”
Roman honed his skills at both over the years, appearing as front man for many different big bands around the UK. Singing with big bands was one of his biggest dreams and he got a call to appear as his idol Sinatra in the UK Rat Pack tour.
He found himself doing this for the next 10 years, even performing as ol blue eyes in New York at the top of the Rockerfella Center, originally opened by Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1920s where they danced on its famous revolving dance floor. It went on to host all of Roman’s heroes.
“It was a very surreal moment for me to be literally standing on the same stage as my idols singing the songs I love while looking over the Empire State Building. After years of portraying one of my idols and by now feeling a little trapped by being a tribute artist, I started to slowly add my own humour into the Rat Pack shows, which was mostly frowned upon by the director.
“It was probably a bit naughty of me but I couldn’t help myself, the yearn to make make people laugh was too much and I can honestly say I get the biggest kick from hearing hundreds of people laugh rather than the applause I get from singing. I got my head down and starting writing an all-singing, all-dancing, all-comedy show. This is how the beast that is Crooners was born.”
He teamed up with his favourite group, the mini big band, and pulled in two of his favourite actor and singing friends Jim Whitley and Phil Barley.
“I knew who I wanted while I was writing it and the fit was perfect with just two rehearsals and straight into our first sell-out show in Doncaster’s Cast Theatre last year. It exceeded all my expectations, it was everything I hoped it would be and more and the standing ovation was a feeling I’ll never forget.”
Backed by the live nine-piece band, it follows the story of three very British gentlemen who exhume the characteristics of a crooner - suave, self-assured and stylish. But this modern world isn’t always the place for men of style and vigour. Men with a penchant for sentiment, romance and charm. Men who own tap shoes.
Visiting the Ipswich Regent on May 11. It’s full of satirical energy, one-liners, silliness and musical numbers from some of the greatest crooners of all time including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Matt Monro, Nat King Cole and more.