The Glenn Miller Story, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton.

IT was on the decks of the Southampton based Cunard liners that Tommy Steele had his first taste of being a song and dance man.

And he used tips from his cabin boy wages to visit Broadway, dreaming that one day his name would be up in lights.

And that dream came true. Not only was he Britain’s first rock ‘n roll star but he became one of the greatest song and dance performers of all time.

This week the cheeky chirpy cockney is back in the seaport where he set off on voyages that were to hone his skills as one of the world’s greatest entertainers.

He is saluting another showbiz icon in The Glenn Miller Story, a spectacular new musical portraying the extraordinary tale of the world’s most famous band leader.

It is 70 years ago that Miller vanished over the English Channel as he flew to Paris to entertain the troops during the Second World War.

Did he crash? Was he shot down? To this day the guessing game still goes on and despite all the theories the mystery will never be solved.

But one thing is certain the intoxicating music of Glenn Miller will never die.

And there is no bigger fan of Glenn Miller’s music than Tommy Steele. So much so that he has travelled the world to hear what remains of the original orchestral sounds.

Miller changed the face of popular music between 1939 and 1943 to become the world’s number one recording artist.

He was awarded the first ever gold record after selling 1.2 million copies of Chattanooga Choo Choo for the RCA Victor label.

Steele’s passion for the American band leader’s tunes shines through in this Mayflower production featuring a 16 piece orchestra and dazzling choreography.

I wondered how a 78 year-old would fill the role of a musician who was only 40 when he died. But it is Tommy’s eternal youthful zest for being centre stage which bridges the age gap.

But the timeless Miller melodies are more than enough to carry this fast moving production.

It is a mouth watering feast for Glenn Miller fans with floor filling tunes from the 30s and 40s, including It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing, Moonlight Serenade, Chattanooga Choo Choo and Pennsylvania 6-5000 – a number which rings throughout the show.

Tommy skilfully demonstrates his song and dance credentials with Sing Sing Sing and there is strong performance from Sarah Soetaert who plays Miller’s wife Helen Burger.

There was a chance for the audience to join in a Glenn Miller sing along with Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree, I’ve Got a Gal From Kalamazoo and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.

As he signed off to a standing ovation from a packed audience Tommy Steele cried: “Southampton I love you.”

A fitting stage exit for the former Southampton based cabin boy who became a star.

The Glenn Miller Story runs until September 12.