Stage star Gary Wilmot has come a long way from his talent show days
COMEDIAN, performer and all round stage star, Gary Wilmot, will return to Plymouth's Theatre Royal in the show Radio Times — The Musical next month.
He will appear as Sammy Shaw and will be joined by Sara Crow as Olive James in the production which runs from December 3 to 8.
Radio Times follows the tribulations of the BBC's Variety Bandwagon cast who are about to broadcast live to America for the first time during the Second World War.
The clock ticks away, the radio ventriloquist has not turned up and there is no sign of the star of the show, Sammy Shaw.
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With seconds to spare he arrives with Gary Strong, a Hollywood movie idol, in tow.
The broadcast seems assured but Olive James, Sammy's girlfriend, knows Gary of old and starts to question her commitment.
Gary Wilmot is enjoying life on the road and loving playing Sammy, a conglomeration of all the comedians of that time.
"It was their duty to raise the morale of the country, while he's out there making people laugh, they don't realise he has his own problems and has the weight of the world on his shoulders," he explained.
The writer, comedian, impressionist and singer rose to fame in the 1980s though a number of television appearances and subsequently moved into theatre.
Gary first found TV fame with the talent show New Faces, where he won through to the national final, and soon he was a much sought-after guest on the top TV shows of the day and a star of the series Copycats.
Along the way he was helped by Torbay-based theatrical agents Billie and Trevor George
"I've fond memories of them," he said.
"They got their money's worth out of you, but I had a tremendous experience with them.
"Last year Billie died and I did a fundraiser down in Paignton in Billie's memory. They are remarkable and enduring people who have given so many people their first step on the ladder in the entertainment business. I'm entirely grateful to them."
Thanks to Gary getting his big break he's had a glittering stage career.
He's played Bill Snibson in Me and My Girl, Fagan in Oliver and enjoyed appearing in the premier of Barry Manilow musical Copacabana among many other roles.
Even though he's been treading the boards for numerous years, he still has a hunger to audition for great roles and is still passionate about performing.
"Radio Times is definitely one of the best productions I've ever been involved in," he said with enthusiasm.
"It's a good production and I have to say that there is a talented and versatile bunch of performers in the show, they dance, sing and play instruments at the highest level.
"I can't wait to come to Plymouth as in the past I've had some great times in the city and there's usually a great crowd there."
Radio Times is a funny and fast moving musical set in wartime London featuring classic songs by Noel Gay, with songs including Run Rabbit Run, Hey Little Hen and There's Something About a Soldier.
Noel Gay was one of the most popular and prolific British composers from the 1930s through to the 1950s.
His music has become synonymous with World War Two with hits such as Lambeth Walk and Let the People Sing providing much-needed entertainment during the war years.
His most famous musical, Me and My Girl, opened in 1937 and despite being bombed out of two theatres, ran for five years.
Though not everybody may know his name, everybody knows his tunes.
"His songs are extremely high quality and he knew how to write ones which are great and memorable," said Gary.
"His songs will be around forever.
"He's also written some beautiful ballads, which feature in this production.
"Radio Times is a great story and will lift you, it's true escapism, which is what theatre is all about."
For more information or to book tickets, contact the box office on (01752) 267222 or online at www.theatreroyal.com/radio