Choreographer and former judge of Strictly Come Dancing, Mrs. Arlene Phillips, called Tom Parker “a sweetheart” as she expressed her sympathy to his family after his death at the age of 33.
The wanted star passed away on Wednesday among his close friends and family, 17 months after it was announced he had a brain tumor.
Speaking on the BBC’s Breakfast programme, Dame Arlene, 78, said: “He worked so hard, he was great.”
Dame Arlene worked with Parker on the set of Grease The Musical in London’s West End.
Bolton-born Parker was cast as Danny Zuko on the UK Music Tour in 2017, and the show was designed by Dame Arlene.
She remembered helping Parker after he told her he couldn’t dance.
“I worked with him initially on Grease, where he had to do Born To Hand Jive, the biggest dance in the entire musical, and he said ‘No, I don’t dance,’ and I said ‘Well, you’re going to have to’.
‘He said ‘Okay I’m strong,’ and we had a great partner working with him…And in fact what happened, Tom Parker – who couldn’t really dance – I think he probably did the best Danny Cha dance of anyone else ever.
“He worked hard, he was exceptional.
“He absolutely loved the performance and seemed to be able to fight through anything and everything, and shrugged it off in a way that shocked me.”
She also expressed her sympathy to Kelsey Parker, Parker’s widow, saying: “His very beautiful wife Kelsey, to lose the father of her children, and her partner, kind, gentle and loving, the two of them, will touch your heart only to watch them together and love each other.
“It’s a terrible loss.”
Ben Shepard and Susannah Reed also paid tribute to Parker in Good Morning Britain.
Sheppard, 47, said: “You could see he was so full of energy and fun and I think the band’s comeback was all about his illness and his diagnosis and they were still planning what was going to happen.
“It was great to be with them and with all of them.”
Reed, 51, added, “It was very noticeable how much they cared about him behind the scenes too. Although he still had a lot of energy, and was smiling and laughing, they were all around him the whole time, and they were just there.”
“We are very sad about this, Tom, a tragic young man, 33, what happened to him is incredibly cruel.
“We’re sending our love for the band, to the team around them, and especially to Kelsey and the kids.”