SHEFFIELD Wednesday fan Josh Dever hasn’t been able to join the promotion celebrations because he has been touring the country in the musical, Grease.
My four-year-old niece has seen more of them than me lately,” says the South Yorkshire actor. I started going with my older brother when I was eight or nine. That was in the early Nineties when we really had a team and then things weren’t so good. Maybe we’re on the way back to those days.”
Dever is making his professional acting debut in Grease, the original high-school musical full of slick hairstyles, rock ‘n’ roll and a mix mix of teenage angst and young romance. He plays T Bird ‘Sonny’ alongside Danny Bayne (winner of Grease is the Word) as champion of cool Danny , Carina Gillespie as his preppy sweetheart Sandy and X Factor’s Rhydian Roberts guesting in the role of Teen Angel.
Dever was born at Denaby in the Dearne Valley and from the age of 13 attended Worksop College when his family moved to Gateford where they still live.
He wasn’t exactly a stage wannabe. “It wasn’t until I was about 17 years old that I thought anything about it,” he says. “Before then I wanted to be an athlete - the decathlon was my event. One thing I was good at though was pulling faces and doing impressions of movie stars like Christopher Walken and Robert De Niro.”
Realising his sporting prowess was not sufficiently special he decided to do a performing arts course at Rotherham College where he found himself introduced to song and dance “to see if I had the bottle”. He did and was sufficiently emboldened to apply to the Italia Conti stage school where he acquired skills in “the triple threat” of acting, singing and dancing.
“I went to London and did a lot of growing up too,” he reflects. During his time there he did a couple of pantos, a play called Spring Awakening on the Fringe, and some Shakespeare.
Then just over a year ago, before he graduated, he got an offer to join the touring production of Grease - one of three shows he went up for within a couple of weeks.
“T Bird ‘Sonny’ is different on stage from the film where he is chubby and wears sunglasses,” says the actor. “I still wear the shades but that’s about it. Sonny thinks he is as cool as Danny - but isn’t. I had a lot of freedom with the role to develop it in my own way.”
Over the 10 or 11 months on the road (Sheffield is the last date), Dever has added to his skills - “one of the lads has taught me to play guitar a bit”.
The show features energetic and vibrant dance numbers choreographed by Arlene Phillips and the hit songs from the movie including You’re The One That I Want, Grease Is The Word, Summer Nights, Hopelessly Devoted to You, Sandy, and Greased Lightnin’.
Before going into the show Dever did watch the John Travolta movie and found it a big help in getting a handle of the style of the Fifties.
“I love the style of it. All the girls wear wigs but the lads do their own quiffs with bits of hairspray. I got in late last night and my hair’s still like that.”
Grease is at the Lyceum Theatre from Monday to Saturday.