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Review: TOM - A Story Of Tom Jones @ Muni Arts Centre

Posted by Jackofalltrades from Cardiff - Published on 05/03/2014 at 15:19
1 comments » - Tagged as Art, Comedy, Culture, Music, Stage

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Theatr na nÓgTOM - A Story Of Tom Jones

Muni Arts Centre, Pontypridd

Tuesday 4th March 2014

At the end of a day of typical and traditional chilly Welsh weather, I was fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to experience something equally as deep rooted in the Welsh culture as the weather.  

And if I told you that it wasn’t watching the rugby or practicing the use of one of my favourite Welsh-isms, "mun" at the end of sentences (although the latter features frequently), what else could stir such enthusiasm from a Welsh audience than the music of the one and only Tom Jones?

That’s right, last night I went to go and see TOM: A Story Of Tom Jones at the Muni Theatre in Pontypridd (famously the home of Tom himself), which kicked off its UK tour on St David’s Day.  

Put together by Theatr na nÓg in association with Rhondda Cynon Taf and Neath Port Talbot Theatres, TOM: A Story Of Tom Jones follows the life of a valleys boy along the trials and tribulations of his path to international stardom.

One of the things TOM made me realise upon watching was how little I actually knew about Tom Jones before his musical success. The Tom Jones we meet at the start of the show is far from the super cool master of stagecraft we know and love. In fact, he’s not Tom Jones at all!

Born Thomas Woodward before changing his name to Tommy Scott upon joining his local band The Senators, a large proportion of the show follows Tom’s life in Wales, and the struggles he faced in pursuing a career in music, along with the domestic difficulties partnered with it.

We see Tom; played with a perfect balance of impersonation and artistic license here by Kit Orton (and a hell of a voice to boot) go from bar to bar with the other boys from The Senators in their bid to break free of the local limitations and make the big time.

Aside from the superb collection of Tom’s greatest songs, which I might add were played live on stage by the cast in flawless fashion, the narrative of the piece really does stand up very well. Written by Mike James, the script offers hilarity and drama in well-prescribed doses and I at no point felt as though songs were being shoehorned in, as I feared they might be.

The show is guided through its course by a narrator of sorts played by Phylip Harries, who does a marvellous job of linking segments separated by years or miles, all whilst embodying the Welsh spirit of the 60s perfectly and effortlessly.

Although it is easy to get swept away in the story of Tom’s climb to fame, it’s important to bear in mind that this show is also in all senses and definitions a love story. Tom and Linda, having gotten pregnant at fifteen and married just a month before the baby arrived, are forced to deal with stresses placed on their relationship by the fleeting nature of success, and severe financial insecurity as Tom takes his chances under Gordon Mills in London. Making due reference to the somewhat famous stories of Tom’s infidelity, a main focus of the show is the resilience of a marriage that has lasted over sixty years.

It has to be said, a huge congratulations is in order for all those who worked on the show. Whether that be the incredibly multi-talented cast, the technical team who made brilliant use of a deceptively small stage in a way that looked stunning, or anyone who worked on any of the thousands of other relatively unseen tasks vital to a show’s success.

Getting an audience out of their seats and dancing in the aisles in no mean feat, especially on a Tuesday night…

The verdict? If you’re looking for an enjoyable night out guaranteed to have you smiling by the curtains, this one’s for you.

If you’re a Tom Jones fan, unless you get a chance to meet the man himself, this really is a close second.

So, pack a pair of frilly knickers to throw on stage and get down to the Muni, the performance runs until Saturday 8th March 2014 before moving onto a series of other UK venues.

More details available here - http://www.theatr-nanog.co.uk/tom

Info Â» Things To Do Â» The Arts Â» Acting, Drama and Theatre

Events Â» March 2014's Sprout Editorial Group Meeting

Organisations Â» National Youth Arts Wales

Events Â» TOM - A Story of Tom Jones

Articles Â» Categories Â» Stage

1 CommentPost a comment

Sam Sprout (Editor)

Sam Sprout (Editor)

Commented 26 months ago - 6th March 2014 - 10:12am

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