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Marti thrills theatre audiences with his Pellow Talk

Review:

Marti Pellow in Pellow Talk
Marti Pellow in Pellow Talk

Marti Pellow, Pellow Talk

Telford Oakengates Theatre, Stourbridge Town Hall & Cannock Prince Of Wales Theatre

He’s the pop start with the pitch-perfect voice, the actor who razzle-dazzled on Broadway and in the West End and the pin-up who continues to inspire adoration from legions of fans, following his super-successful ten years with Wet Wet Wet.

Marti Pellow is the showbiz all-rounder, who ticks all the boxes, thrills a mostly female fanbase and never fails to delight.

In his show, however, we see a side of his that’s previously been well-hidden. He steps out of character – he’s no longer the unattainable pop star or the actor in character. Pellow Talk introduces us to the real Marti, or, more accurately, to Mark McLachlan, former resident of Clydebank.

It’s a show that combines music and stories and is set in a 1970s living room, reminiscent of the one in which he grew up. Over the course of two hours, the audience travels with Marti – or, Mark – on the extraordinary journey that this ordinary, working class man took.

There are many, many highs – from the thrill of his first single to the other-worldly success of Wet Wet Wet’s debut album, Popped In Souled Out. There are hilarious stories surrounding the record-breaking Love Is All Around while we learn about his devotion to his devoted mother and father, both of whom supported his venture into pop stardom.

There’s a darker side, too. Pellow talks openly and movingly about his successful fight against alcoholism and drug addiction, to such an extent that members of the audience are profoundly moved.

The narrative is swathed in the most beautiful music – and, happily, in unexpected song choices that show his range as a singer. There are moments when you can hear a pin-drop, so refined and dreamy are his vocals.

Pellow is joined on his quest by long-standing musical director and friend, Grant Mitchell, who underscores his narrative with a beautiful piano accompaniment.

The second half begins with a deeply moving story about his recovery from substance abuse before tripping the light fantastic through the West End and Broadway. There is humour throughout. Pellow is a naturally funny man and a number of small skits – from teenage dancing to the time his dad was stuck in a lift with scantily clad dancers from Chicago – are remarkably funny.

He talks with fondness, reverence and love for his native Scotland before coming full circle and reflecting on family – and that’s both his own mother, father, grandmother and brother, as well as the extended family comprising his long-standing fans.

The end of his show, featuring two songs, The Kiss, and Dante’s Prayer, is profoundly moving. Many members of the audience are moved to tears as he talks about his mother and father, before ending with the haunting and ethereal Dante’s Prayer.

Pellow’s bravura, emotionally-draining performance is a career highlight. Showing a range of skills – he’s comedian and actor, singer and showman – Pellow has immense stagecraft and stage presence and takes his audience on a remarkable journey.

It’s a jaw-dropping, unexpected show from a performer at the peak of his powers.

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