Whiting was spotted by an agent at the Connaught Rooms where he was performing at a Jewish wedding at the age of 12. He only sang one song ("Summertime") which he had rehearsed as a one-off song with the group Teal Lewis and the Fourtunes, who were the entertainment for the evening. This was set up by his father to get him noticed. After hearing him sing, the agent suggested he try out for Lionel Bart's Oliver! which constantly needed replacements for its child performers. Whiting played the Artful Dodger in the long-running London musical for 18 months, and for 13 months appeared at Laurence Olivier's National Theatre in the production of William Congreve's Love for Love opposite Olivier, which toured Moscow and Berlin.