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Kit Orton as Tom Jones with ‘The Senators’ in Tom. A Story of Tom Jones, The Musical

Kit Orton, who trained at The Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, talks of playing a legend in the hit musical and the less well known story of Tom Jones’ life before he became famous.

Tom Jones is a true icon. How did you feel when you found out you were playing him?

I felt brilliant, then the reality set in that I’m playing someone very current in everyone’s minds. I just hoped that people would accept and respect what I did with him. I’m lucky in that I’m playing him at a time before everyone knew who he was. 

How does that help?

It gives me a lot of artistic licence. I don’t do an impression or an impersonation. I could – if there’s ever karaoke on, I will sing It’s Not Unusual. It’s my party trick – but I try to pay a bit more respect to him, as he is still going.

The show focuses on lesser known time in Tom’s life, doesn’t it?

Yes, it’s a true story, about the early life of Tom Jones. We all got to know him when he was famous but there is a fascinating story about him trying to become somebody. It’s about him breaking down doors trying to get recognised, trying to escape what he thought was trapping him in this small community in Wales. He was working in a paper mill and was just desperate to sing. It doesn’t happen quickly for him. In part of the show, he’s close to throwing himself in front of a train because it’s not happening. He’s not making any money, everyone’s about to give up on him and he can’t go home a failure. There are dark moments in Tom’s life that I was completely unaware of before I joined the show.

Was the music a surprise too?

The numbers that we’ve got in the show aren’t all songs that you’d necessarily associate with him. The songs we concentrate on are the songs he used to sing in the pubs and clubs around Wales; Jerry Lee Lewis numbers, Al Jolson numbers. We’ve got actors playing Tom’s band, The Senators, who happen to be the most amazing musicians as well, so everything you hear in the show is absolutely live. We perform those gigs like you would have heard them if you were there. The amps are on stage with them and set up exactly as they would have been in the late 50s early 60s.

Honestly, if I thought this was a jukebox musical I wouldn’t have signed on to it. We don’t have a cat called Delilah or a scene where we buy a new pet leading to What’s New, Pussycat? We don’t shoehorn songs in for no reason. Our songs are put in place because Tom was a performer. There’s no way you can tell his story without having them. We do a lovely medley of hits at the end though, because we want to give people a feel good boom. That’s cool, because it’s not involved in the story; it’s just a bit of fun.

 

Has Sir Tom seen it?

He hasn’t. His management are aware of the project. Maybe he’ll come. I think he’d appreciate the respect we’ve given him and his story:  it makes for great theatre.

Listings Information

Tom. A Story of Tom Jones, The Musical

Wed 25 – Sat 28 May

Times: 7:30pm, Thu & Sat 2pm

Tickets: £24 – £34 (includes £2 booking fee)

Concessions: Up to £3 off

Lyric Theatre

Took book tickets and more information click HERE

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