Young Critics Review: Theatr Na Nog presents - A Story of Tom Jones

The Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd and what better venue for Theatr Na Nog to perform Tom – A Story of Tom Jones, than in his home town in the South Wales valleys. On Thursday the 7th of March I travelled to this intimate venue, which is well known for its musical ventures alongside theatrical debuts to see what Theatr Na Nog had spent months perfecting ready to showcase.

The story begins with Thomas Woodward, played by Kit Orton, as a young man born and raised in Pontypridd, a young man very much in love with singing and very much in love with his girl Linda, played by Elin Philips. We follow them through an emotional journey of love, pregnancy and marriage and eventually Tom’s leaving to try and make the big time in London.

Kit Orton’s portrayal of Tommy Woodward into Sir Tom Jones was outstanding! The accent, the singing and even the signature swagger that we are all familiar with, came to life. At points Kit was so immersed within the character it felt as though he was going to burst out from the stage. We followed Tommy Scott and the Senators through playing in local pubs to struggling to get noticed in the big city, London. He completely invoked the charm of Tom Jones and used it in order to give the audience a show nothing short of what the man himself would have provided.

The on stage chemistry between Kit and Elin was very apparent and felt extremely genuine, especially with the character of Linda reacting to the claims of apparent infidelity. There has always been much speculation in the press over Tom Jones’ love affairs and Elin Philips really managed the persona of loving and devoted wife, the reoccurring scene of queuing, awaiting her husbands’ call at the phone box really helped to cement her as a helpless victim.

A Story of Tom, written by Mike James and directed by Geinor Styles, is an enjoyable and fantastically performed take on the life of Thomas Woodward before he became the worldwide sensation that is Tom Jones. I refer to it more as a life story with the addition of songs as oppose to a musical, we were drawn in to the fascinating re-telling of one of our much loved home town legends’ earlier years. With a brilliantly simplistic designed set from Sean Crowley, we were able to separate from the musical performance area and theatrical stage area easily with just a few switches. The performance ended with a medley of Tom Jones’ greatest hits, chosen by musical director Ben Goddard, performed by the entire cast with such rehearsed excellence that it had the audience singing along, swaying and dancing in their seats. I enjoyed the entire performance from start to finish and congratulate Theatr Na Nog on such a successful and flattering homage to Wales’ finest treasures Sir Thomas John Woodward OBE.

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