The Lowry, Salford Quays
Until Saturday 28th May, 2016
Whisking the audience back in time for a nostalgic trip to the dance halls, working men’s clubs and recording studios of the 1960s, Tom takes a powerful look at the early years of one of music’s most charismatic, determined and talented figures – the superstar that is Mr. Tom Jones.
Writer Mike James and director Geinor Styles do a fabulous job of bringing this inspirational and often very moving story of self-belief and sheer determination to the stage, effectively separating the man from the myth and carefully examining Jones’ resolute and often debilitating journey to the top (and of course the various obstacles faced along the way).
Newport-born Kit Orton does a solid job in the central role as Pontypridd’s most famous son, though he doesn’t quite have the gruffness and raw vocal power of the man himself. It is much more of an interpretation than an imitation, instead concentrating primarily on the physical characteristics that help define Jones’ signature blend of electricity and sex appeal.
Elin Phillips is a standout as Tom’s patient and continually supportive wife Linda (whom he married at just 16, with their son Mark born very shortly after) and together with Orton, the scenes of Tom’s continued failure and disenchantment and constant phone calls back home are often heartbreaking to witness.
With its focus on the formative years of his career (1955-1965), the show understandably doesn’t feature many of his better known numbers, though it does given those less (or perhaps un-) familiar with his earlier records an opportunity to discover such often overlooked gems as Ghost Riders in the Sky, Spanish Harlem and Lucille. It is however the closing medley that steals the show musically, with audiences treated to a compilation of his later and best known hits in the form of Delilah, Green, Green Grass of Home and What’s New Pussycat.
The rock and roll soundtrack is rendered in superb fashion by an outstanding core quartet that form Jones’ backing band The Senators (under the musical direction of Greg Palmer), further supported by a faultless ensemble cast of actor-musicians.
Simplistic in its construction – though slick and assured in its overall staging – Tom proves one of the stronger new additions to the ever-growing ‘jukebox biography’ genre, brimming with emotion, passion and energy and leaving the audience
Running Time: 2 hours and 10-minutes (approx.), including one 15-minute interval.
Final Performance at The Lowry, Salford Quays: Saturday 28th May, 2016.
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