Former Manchester City footballer Jim Whitley is used to performing in front of cheering crowds. . .
Only these days his audiences are seated in the UK’s premier concert halls rather than in Premiership football stadiums.
Whitley’s blossoming career as a footballer – he was also a Northern Ireland international – was cut short through injury.
A choirboy and flutist from an early age, he then reverted to his musical roots to portray Nat King Cole in a touring stage show production.
“My brother-in-law had the play out called Naked Truth,” Whitley said.
“The producer of that show needed someone to play Nat King Cole for a show called Christmas Crooners. I went for an audition and got the part.”
Jim’s crooning career really took off when he took on the role of Sammy Davis Jnr. He joined the UK tour of a major hit West End Rat Pack production playing Sammy and working with the full West End cast.
Today, his solo stage show is in great demand, taking him all over the world from Mumbai to Auckland, Bora Bora to Los Angeles and even to New York’s famous Rainbow Rooms, performing alongside Judy Carmichael.
Whitley is currently appearing as Sammy Davis Jnr in the touring hit stage show Rat Pack Live, which arrives at Buxton Opera House on Saturday evening.
Boasting stars from the West End, the brand-new spectacular also features fellow kings of swing Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, portrayed by Richard Shelton and Mark Halliday respectively.
Featuring all the patter and razzamatazz of the Rat Pack’s infamous live stage show, the trio will perform classics such as New York, New York; That’s Amore; My Way; Mr Bojangles; That’s Life; Ain’t That a Kick in the Head; I’ve Got You Under My Skin; Mambo Italiano and Little Old Wine Drinker Me.
Tickets for Rat Pack Live on May 10, at 7.30pm, are priced £20 and £22.
They are available from the Water Street venue on 0845 127 2190 or at www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk.