Festival Theatre, Edinburgh – until 19 March 2016
Guest reviewer: Susan Lowes
When it comes to The Voice, there’s only one that counts, or at least that’s the way it should be.
Straight out of Wales, Theatr Na Nog bring TOM, a story of their nation’s favourite son, Tom Jones, to the Festival Theatre until Saturday. They pick up Tom Jones’ story in Pontypridd in 1957, where at the age of 15 he falls in love and marries his childhood sweetheart, Linda. The musical charts Jones’ (or Tom Woodward as he was then) early years growing up in a rural mining village and his struggle to become the sex bomb he always knew he was.
Tom Jones is a superstar and, at the age of 75, he’s still showing us today that he’s got what it takes to drive an audience wild. So a story of his life should be sensational. And yet there is something flat about this production.
The story is there, there’s no lack of talent on stage, the set and the scene changes are slick and it’s all well polished. But it’s a long, slow starter that doesn’t ever seem to get going. Then, just when the energy picks up and it starts to show a hint of excitement, it’s brought to an abrupt, and somewhat premature end.
The Welsh cast set a good background to the production, but there is little to make them stand out. They are just there to showcase – the show is undeniably, and quite rightly, focused around the main man.
Kit Orton with The Senators. Photo Simon Gough
Kit Orton plays Tom and while there’s no question he can belt out a decent tune (just wait until he really gets going in the final medley) he comes across more middle-aged dad at a family wedding than sex bomb. His acting in the opening scenes does him credit though and there is glimmer of the superstar to be found in his mannerisms.
The Senators, Tom’s backing band, provide a great musical accompaniment that does get feet-tapping but it’s a real shame that the musical ends where most people’s knowledge of the star begins. It’s Not Unusual, Delilah, What’s New Pussycat, Green Green Grass of Home and Sex Bomb are all squeezed in to the last five minutes as part of a finale medley. The popularity of the songs will have people dancing in the aisles, but the energy is too little too late.
There’s a real feeling that Theatr Na Nog’s production, directed by Geinor Styles, is a very capable one – and there is talent aplenty. But the atmosphere, energy and the big man’s sparkle disappointingly don’t translate. Still, if you’re looking for a bit of a boogie, you’ll leave on a high note.
Running time 2 hours 10 minutes (including one interval)
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT
Tuesday 15 – Saturday 19 March 2016
Evenings: 7.30pm; Matinees Thurs 17, Sat 19: 2.30pm.
Full details and tickets on the Festival Theatre website: http://www.edtheatres.com/tom
TOM the musical tour website: http://tomthemusical.com/
TOM on tour:
Tue 15 – Sat 19 Mar
0131 529 6000
Wed 30 Mar – Sat 2 Apr
0116 242 3595
Tue 5 – Sat 9 Apr
0844 871 7607
Tue 12 – Sat 16 Apr
0114 249 6000
Tue 19 – Sat 23 Apr
Tue 26 – Sat 30 Apr
0203 285 6000
Tue 3 – Sat 7 May
0844 811 2121
Tue 10 – Sat 14 May
Tue 17 – Sat 21 May
0844 871 7651
Wed 25 – Sat 28 May
0843 208 6000
Wed 1 – Sat 4 Jun
0844 871 3011