Benjamin Mundy In Annie
The funny thing about falling for a performer's talents in Cats is that, because the show requires so very much talent and performance levels from all of its cast, it's sometimes not until I see someone in a completely different show that it fully hits me just how supremely talented they are; even before seeing Ben Mundy as an onstage swing in Annie I already knew he was a fabulous performer, but this show truly made me appreciate just how incredible a dancer and showman he can be. It was real treat to watch Ben get to work his magic at his stagey best in a such a traditional musical theatre production as this; something about Ben's whole being just lights up on a stage and watching him work his magic with the Annie choreography and really just project his entire heart and spirit into every beat was so captivating and special. I was able to see Ben in the tour in both Birmingham - one of my all-time favourite venues - and also in Stoke and during both performances I was struck by just how much he could make of the smallest moment, by how very hard he can sell whatever moment you give him and how perfectly he can fill a stage with brightness as he dances, he loves what he does and it shows and I think it's fair to say he was absolutely born to perform in musicals. My highlight in both performances I think was probably when he and the other ensemble boys did the tap number; the pure infectious joy of watching him perform that choreography just made me feel so happy in kind and catching his small smile my way during it in Stoke was a really lovely moment too. The Birmingham trip was the first of the two, and it almost all went terribly wrong when a mix-up with the ticket booking led to me almost missing the show entirely and having to get more tickets at the last minute which were sadly a lot further back than my original ones had been, not that being further back in the auditorium made any difference to how much I could feel the sun Ben was able to project from the stage! At the stage door after the Birmingham show Ben was so ridiculously kind and generous with his time, sweetly grateful to me for coming to a show that wasn't Cats just to see him and as full of loveliness and conversation as ever, he also expertly handled a somewhat awkward situation with another person at the stage door that night with a gentleness and politeness that to this day my mum comments on as proof that he is simply one of the best humans on the planet. At stage door in Stoke my overwhelming memory (as well as Ben's usually sunny warmth, kindness and gratitude) is of Ben's genuine openess to my city, insisting he didn't care at all for any suggestion of its bad reputation with people when we mentioned it and instead saying how lovely the people were where he was staying and telling us how he had never had a bad experience in his time there. He was so polite and friendly that night that both my mum and our friend said to me as we finally parted from him after walking a little way towards his hotel with him "He is such a well-brought-up-boy" and that made me smile so much because I think it speaks so much to his character the way people react to him when they meet him and I just felt so lucky and honoured in that moment to know him and to get to see him do what he loves by performing in shows, certain always just how far he will go.