HE'S swapping sell out boyband gigs for packed performances at theatres around the UK.

The Wanted's Tom Parker couldn't be happier to be making his theatrical debut in Grease.

"Things are really good," the Bolton born singer tells me during a break in intense rehearsals for the celebrated role of Danny Zuko.

"It's really different from when I was in the band. We do eight shows a week and I've definitely got to be a lot more careful about what I do with my voice. It's been an amazing learning curve and I've learnt so much about my voice. I've probably learnt more in the three months I've been doing the show than in six years in the band."

Tom revealed he was actually approached to play the role of Teen Angel – but producers were so impressed by his audition, they called him back for the starring part.

"I was at home for two years after the band and at the beginning of this year my management got in touch. Musical theatre had never really crossed my mind. I went and did an audition and was called back to audition for Danny. That's a pretty big role and it was quite a big step for me, but I've tried to take it all in my stride.

"I didn't go to musical theatre school whereas the majority of cast did and I'm learning something new every day. I'm genuinely thankful for the opportunity. I wasn't really a dancer and that's been challenging, I won't lie to you. But I'm loving learning the choreography and technical stuff and more about my body."

Tom is in good company in the hit musical, which opens at Mayflower Theatre next week. The international pop star is making his debut alongside Over The Rainbow winner Danielle Hope as Sandy. Louisa Lytton, of Strictly Come Dancing and Eastenders fame, will play Rizzo. while music legend Jimmy Osmond is set to reprise his role as Teen Angel.

But don't expect to see a John Travolta-esque turn by Tom as the leader of the T Birds.

"When I first knew I was doing it, I watched a lot of clips of him, especially in Grease Live when he did it in America. I didn't want to stray too far away from him, but I really wanted to put my own stamp on it. If you're coming to see a show which doesn't have John Travolta in it, what do you want?! You have to create your own character.

In Grease, wholesome exchange student Sandy and tough guy Danny indulge in a sultry summer romance. But can they make love last when they are reunited back at school? We all know the answer, but that's not the point. Grease is one of the most-loved musicals of all time.

"All the stars aligned and everything just fitted in the film and then the musical I think," says 28-year-old Tom.

"The movie was made on this tiny budget of £5 million and grossed £400 million, which is crazy. It's the simplicity of it I think. Boy meets girl, once he's stopped being an idiot, they fall in love."

Tom laughs when I ask him whether he was one of the cool kids at school like his T Birds character.

"I thought I was! Modern day cool is you've got all the designer gear and you hang around with everyone else with designer gear. My version of the T Birds was into rock music. I don't know if we were cool as such at school, probably more geeks."

A foray into musical theatre is a real change for the former frontman of The Wanted.

The band, which also starred Max George, Siva Kaneswaran and Jay McGuiness, burst onto the music scene in 2010 with their hit single All Time Low.

The Wanted were well-known worldwide, enjoying an audience with The Obamas at The White House at the height of their fame.

They enjoyed music success with other chart bangers including Glad You Came and Chasing The Sun until 2014 when they announced a hiatus.

But Tom doesn't rule out a return for the popular foursome.

"We did six years together and I'm the biggest fan of our band. I loved being in that band and if we have the opportunity to get back together at some point in the future, I'm pretty sure it will be my name first on the list. It will probably be me driving it.

"I think it will happen. You have to give enough time for everyone to go off and experience what they want to do as an individual. When and if the time is right, we'll come again."

Watch this space Wanted fans.

Grease comes to Southampton from Tuesday until Saturday July 8.

Tickets: 023 8071 1811 or mayflower.org.uk