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Don't ban my cigs yet, yet, yet pleads Chicago star Marti; ONLY VICE I'VE GOT LEFT SAYS SINGER.

Byline: DEIRDRE O'DONOVAN

CHICAGO star Marti Pellow has hit out against the proposed ban on smoking in Irish pubs - because it's the only vice he's got left.

The former Wet Wet Wet frontman, who has enjoyed a career comeback thanks to his role as Billy Flynn in the musical, says he couldn't face a trip to Ireland without his beloved ciggies.

He explained: "I've been reading about the fact that people won't be able to smoke in the pubs in Ireland and I have to admit, I'm worried.

"That kind of thing works fine in places like LA where you have beautiful, gorgeous days outside. But do you know what kind of climate we have in places like Scotland and Ireland?

"At least it won't be before I get to Dublin and because we're coming for a good long run of the show, I'll have three weeks to be able to hang in the city and I think that's important.

"Because all the rest of the time my visits to Ireland have been just venue, hotel, bar, whatever and then you're out. And then it's like: 'What was that ? That was Dublin'.

"So it'll be great to get a chance to go to the races, feed the ducks and have nights out, do a bit of shopping and see some of the countryside.

"And of course I'll be taking care of business while I'm there."

Taking care of business has made Marti a household name again - something which seemed impossible in the dark days of his heroin addiction following his chart-topping career with Wet Wet Wet.

Chicago has been a smash hit for the last six months on London's West End and before he travels to Dublin with the show, Marti is hoping to mirror fellow star Denise Van Outen's success in the States.

Denise became a smash hit in America when she played Roxy Harte in a Broadway production of the show and now Marti is heading for Broadway himself where he hopes the role of Billy Flynn will get him noticed.

His parents have already booked for the Broadway production and Marti says the moment will bring him extra pleasure.

"My dad has family in Canada and they are coming down as well.

"It's going to be great because I'm getting the chance to relive New York through my old man's eyes.

"I'm going to make sure they get the five-star treatment when they are over - I've a limo sorted and everything for when they arrive."

Wet, Wet, Wet were one of the most successful pop groups of the 80s and 90s, scoring 12 top ten hits, including three number one singles.

But Marti became a casualty of the band's success, descending into a nightmare of heroin and alcohol addiction.

He said: "Nobody consciously sets out to be an alcoholic or a drug addict.

"I'm a simple man, yes means yes and no means no and when things got complicated instead of addressing the problem, I would go and seek solace in a bottle or a drink or a drug.

"I'm simple, and when I have clarity in my life, it's not rocket science - I know to say to myself, 'don't do that'."

Chicago runs from April 22 to May 10 at Dublin's Point Theatre.
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Mar 9, 2003
Words:547
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