FOR Ian Parkin, coming on tour to the Crucible Theatre with 4 Poofs and a Piano is something special.
He grew up across the street from the theatre and went on to be a member of its first youth group and later worked front of house, but this is the first time he will perform as a professional in his home city.
His family originally lived on the Manor until Ian was 14. “My dad became caretaker at the Central United Reformed Church and we moved into a flat next door on Norfolk Street in 1971 around the time the Crucible was opening and I joined Meat Whistle, the first youth theatre and I worked on the stage door and front of house,” he recalls.
“Meg Jepson (later director of Sheffield Youth Theatre) was my drama teacher at Hurlfield School and I was going to be a classical actor. I went to Birmingham School of Speech and Drama and fell into musical theatre. I could dance a bit and had a strong singing voice and just kept getting work. I toured in Joseph and did West End shows such as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
“It’s my first professional appearance, although I was a member of the chorus in Marat Sade in the Main House when I was at school.”
He still has friends and family in Sheffield. “They will make up half the audience,” he laughs. “One of my brothers is still here (the other is in Australia) and I’ve got two nephews and lots of other relatives. It is great to be here after 30 years.”
The foursome, who made their name as the house band on the Jonathan Ross Show on BBC One, met when they joined London Gay Men’s Chorus in 2000. “We gravitated towards each other. We were all in the business and decided to form a singing group. We did one charity event at the Groucho Club where we were seen by a producer who thought we would be ideal for the new show,” explains Parkin.
After 10 years 4 Poofs and a Piano suddenly found themselves out of a job when the Ross show was axed in the wake of the scandal surrounding the presenter and Russell Brand.
“You are always changing jobs in this business but it was a bit of a shock. On reflection it probably came at the right time for us,” says Parkin.
This is the idea of the tour which runs until late April and then the group will be performing at Glastonbury and then the Edinburgh Festival in the summer.
Not that their TV career is over. “We’ve done three months on Daybreak and although that’s finished we know ITV like us.”
4 Poofs and a Piano are at the Crucible Studio on Tuesday.