‘TOM: A Story of Tom Jones’ is brilliant. Fast-moving, punchy and hilarious, the show is a delight from start to finish.
Telling the endearing story of Jones’ climb to fame, the production is well-acted, funny and immensely enjoyable. Refreshingly, it is not a glamorization of his fame, but a snapshot into his early career and love life, and I smiled the whole way through.
Narrated by Jack Lister, the show flips between play and concert, with director, Geinor Styles’ cast moving seamlessly between stage and instruments, thrilling in both parts.
Kit Orton, Tom Connor, Alex Parry, Daniel LLoyd and Keiran Bailey are fantastic as Tom and The Squires. The dynamic between the group is flawless, and the actors are as in tune with each other on stage as they are behind their instruments. They perfectly capture the guarded excitement of a band on the brink of stardom, and are charmingly funny with it.
The band deliver Jones’ classics with full force before resuming their boyish banter on stage, allowing the audience a glimpse into life in the slow lane.
As Linda, Tom’s wife back home in Wales, Elin Phillips’ performance is exceptional, subtly capturing a young woman divided by support and grief for her absent husband.
With most of the actors in established roles, multi-roller Shirley Darroch is hilarious as she takes on the play’s more peripheral characters. Stealing the stage as Tom’s mother in an early scene, Darroch maintains her intelligent characterisations throughout. Look out for her stint in the telephone queue and be prepared to laugh.
The acoustics of the theatre work in the cast’s favour and as the band begin each song, the sound of rock and roll engulfs the audience, as the rambunctious Kit Orton transforms from Welsh lad Tommy Woodward to stage presence, Tom Jones. Orton is boisterous, confident and mesmerising behind the microphone, contrasting with a likeable tenderness as the off-stage Tom.
This production impresses on all levels. A glowing cast perform Mike James’ intelligent script, accentuating its warming humour. Director, Geinor Styles and musical director, Ben Goddard have joined forces to create a highly-energized combination of music and theatre.
You certainly don’t need to be a Tom Jones fan to enjoy the show, you’ll still be waiting for the recognisable “It’s Not Unusual” to be belted out by Orton, by the end of the night.
To book go to www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk/ It is on at Windsor Theatre Royal until April 5.