WITH final rehearsals this week for the opening of Marc Bolan musical 20th Century Boy, Warren Sollars is all set to step into the glam rock legend’s heels, swish on the signature feather boa – and rock out!
The new cast – including Sue Jenkins (Brookside, Coronation Street) and Luke Bailey (Waterloo Road, Casualty) – were tweaking the final technical details at Eden Court before the latest version of the smash hit musical opens for two nights at the theatre tomorrow (Friday).
As well as telling Marc’s story, the show showcases 24 of Marc Bolan and T.Rex’s best-known hits including Ride A White Swan, I Love To Boogie and Get It On.
And though admitting to being nervous, Warren couldn’t be happier.
"I’ve always loved the music," he said.
"It’s a challenge because Marc Bolan was such an icon of that era. But it’s one of those roles that you finally have to interpret in your own way once you’ve done all your homework.
"And it’s a privilege to be asked!
"My mum and dad were always into their music, so I grew up with that era of music.
"And I’ve always had Marc’s songs on my iPod."
Warren from Chester always knew he wanted to perform and wrote – and still writes – his own songs. He trained at Laine Theatre Arts in Surrey and quickly gravitated towards musicals – though he revealed that he still loves to take on plays too. For him, the script is the thing.
His most recent roles have been in Mamma Mia! at the Prince of Wales Theatre in the West End and the new Tim Rice musical From Here To Eternity, based on the book that inspired the classic movie set in the run-up to Pearl Harbour, starring Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr and Frank Sinatra.
" I played a soldier, a bugler Private Anderson – it’s a really beautiful story and because the show was being created fromscratch, we got to create a lot in it which I’d never done before."
Warren calls 20th Century Boy "another gem of a show".
"The book – the script – is almost as good as the music.
"If you took away the music, the piece would still stand on its own.
"And the songs are good because they’re not just shoe-horned in – with this show, they just sit so well. It all gels together."
Even Bolan fans are likely to hear some songs they may not be familiar with among all the hits.
Warren said: "We use a wide range of his songs. He did a lot of songs that probably not many people know – and we also include earlier ones when he was in Tyrannosaurus Rex.
"Marc was into Eddie Cochrane from a young age. When he used to talk about his music he never used to say it was popular music, he would say ‘It’s rock n roll I really like’.
As well as slinging on a Les Paul guitar, Warren will be wearing the familiar boa that was very Marc – among some amazing outfits.
Warren laughed: "One of my favourite costume moments – and all the outfits are fantastic because his style was so out there – is the top hat he wore around the time of the album The Slider with songs like Metal Guru and Telegram Sam. With that and the tailcoat – and his curly hair, it looked amazing."
20th Century Boy is in the Empire Theatre at Eden Court tonight (Friday) at 5pm and 8.30pm and tomorrow (Saturday) at 2pm and 8pm.