Ben, Lovely Ben (Started as the tour had two Bens & he is lovelieness personified.)
Coricopat, 2nd Understudy Rum Tum Tugger
The sweet & contradictory "You're terrible! You're terrible! You're terrible!.......You're a dream!"
All the girls can really see of him is the white crescents of his shoes, but he’s there, and they just know he’s smiling. A mop of dark, fluffy hair falls across his face, and the sunlight from the window catches on his twinkling brown eyes, starbursts of light dancing in them. The soft lines of his smile are a study in friendliness and he’s a nonsense of sweetness; kind-voiced and open-faced.
- from 'The Lesser Tufted Mundy' in At The Stage Door
I have a confession to make when it comes to the lovely Ben Mundy: my mum noticed him before I did. In my defence, the first time I was at a show following Ben joining the cast was also the first time I had been back at the show since Joel Morris had left the tour, and Joel played my favourite character Carbucketty, therefore, I will be honest, A LOT of my attention was directed solely at Carbucketty on the first night I saw the show in Llandudno. It was for that reason that my mum was the one who, as we left the theatre that night, mentioned to me "The new twins are very good, I thought - the new Coricopat's facial expressions were stunning" - so naturally I made plans to keep an eye out on the following two nights, and sure enough, my mum had excellent taste! There was also extra incentive for me to keep an eye on Ben the following two nights, of course, as I noticed him when he came out of the stage door that night and he just came across as one of the sweetest people I had ever encountered! That first night in Llandudno, there was quite a sizeable crowd at stage door, hence why I decided to hang back and only talk to the cast members who already knew me and, of course, Carbucketty - but even hanging back it was still clear to me that Ben had a heart of gold. There was a problem with the programmes in Llandudno, therefore everyone at stage door was having to ask the poor new cast members to sign by pictures of the old cast members, which was just such a mess and honestly, I was outraged - but that's another story! - so that was another reason I was only going for people I knew as I wanted to go back and check the official website's castlist that night so as to make sure I knew who the new people were! But anyway, Ben was the one who handled this whole situation the best, just being his naturally bright, kind self, explaining and re-explaining, on top of having to explain which character he played too, and I watched the whole thing unfold just warming to him more and more the whole time - he was one of the first people I made sure to look up when I got back to my B&B for that reason alone! And so, when I went back the next night, I made sure to pay attention to Ben and his wonderful twinnie Tantomile, played by the fabulous Kathryn Barnes, and I was just SO impressed! Ben is human sunshine; it comes across in person and it comes across on stage, he's just a terrific human being and he has a light in his eyes and the most amazing, magical face...and boy does he use it when he performs! He has a gorgeous singing voice and he's an immensely impressive dancer - one of the best Coricopat-dancers I've ever seen - but I think the thing that really separates him is the way he can draw you in with that face of his, and communicate an emotion so clearly to the point you feel the ache of it in your own chest. I remember, every night in The Moments Of Happiness, I would LOVE watching his beautiful, awed expression as the music soared and the whole tribe stood, looking up - the joy and wonder he managed to communicate in a single look was breath-taking.
Genuinely good people are like that. The sun shines out of them.
They warm you right through.
― Michael Morpurgo, Alone On A Wide Wide Sea
Offstage, Ben is just a complete angel. The first night I met him - my second night in Llandudno - he came out of stage door at the same time as the two Carbuckettys (long story which is explained on the profile of Joel Morris) and when they went "Oh it's YOU! YOU'RE the Carbucketty fan!" he was in the background going "Awww! Yay!!" he was so happy and he knew all about me and was so sweet, listening as I talked about how I loved the show and Carbucketty and all the characters who generally get less of the credit, I was telling Ryan Gover and Dane Quixall (the two Carbuckettys) about how I loved their performances and he was so happy for them, it was just adorable! He even took the photo of me with the two of them and he was just so good to me, despite me totally forgetting I had meant to ask for a photo with him too!! So, the third and final night in Llandudno, I made sure I took my chance to really talk to just him and have my photo with him - but, bless his heart, he was the one thanking me! He was utterly lovely (hence where his nickname sprung from!) telling me "You're a star! It's so lovely looking out and seeing you there smiling, it makes such a difference." I just wanted to grab him and hug him tight - lucky for me he hugged me tight anyway! Ben is just such a heart-of-gold-human-sunbeam-ball-of-loveliness and I can't make it any clearer than that to you just how genuine of a human being he is. There is not a bad bone in that boy's body, he is simply beautiful to his core - he is also the Stagiest Person Alive, and I can't count the number of times he came out of stage door singing, gorgeously I might add, some show tune or another. Another reason I love Ben so much? Other than his ridiculously beautiful soul, his absurdly big smile, his total amazingness onstage and his total sweetness offstage? He's also one of the biggest Cats fanboys - I just have a natural affinity with him!! We even have matching Rum Tum Tugger keyrings!! But on top of all of that, I adore his Ben-hugs, his amazing surprised face when you give him even the smallest of cards or gifts and the fact he is ALWAYS willing to stop and chat and listen. So yes, there are not enough good things I can tell you about Ben, and there are too many stories of him being kind and sweet and stupidly grateful to me at stage door for me to fit on this page.
Following Cats, seeing Ben in Annie only affirmed what I already knew about him: he is a source of genuine goodness and he is packed tightly with silly amounts of talent and warmth. I'm so glad that, when the Annie tour came to Stoke, I got the chance to see him place the part he understudied and to see him really use that expressive face of his - and gorgeous voice of his - as well as dancing his heart out. He has such a good sense for comedy, and his facial expressions are priceless - seeing him always working even in the background of scenes is truly precious. The bonus of being on the front row? I even got a wave and a wink at the curtain went down; being the sweetheart he is, he always remembers to look for me if he knows I'm in!
You know, the best summary I could probably give you about Ben? It's that my mum always comes away from stage door when we've seeing him saying what a 'well-brought-up boy' he is because he's so kind and polite and charming. This guy is adorable, basically. How can anyone be that kind and that talented and that humble?! Ben is just the sweetest and, you know, I'm not usually a Coricopat kinda girl but he made me watch Coricopat a lot more than I ever have before and actually kind of come to love him - so, you know, he's clearly a star! And then offstage, when he smiles you want to smile back, because that grin of his could be used to power a small country for a year! Ben is just so loveable and I adore him. I think he's so much fun and so easy to talk to and he's just one of those human beings that you want to be around because, even if you're feeling sad or anxious or shy, he can just coax you out of it so easily because of his easy, friendly manner. I think it's those kind, bright eyes of his! Oh, and the grin, the grin is irresistible, isn't it? Ben is one of my favourite people who I've ever met at stage door and I'm not sure I can really describe properly how much I love talking to him - just seeing him at stage door makes me smile, even when I didn't even know his name (darn the lack of programmes in Llandudno!) I was charmed by him completely. He's so supportive of everyone around him and so determined to be positive and grateful towards his life in the theatre, because he's just so appreciative of that fact he's made it to his dream-world of the theatre, and he won't let the tiredness or the bad days or whatever it is get him down, he's just determined to find a happiness in the world and to try and give other people that happiness too. And for that, and so many other things, I just want to hug him really tight and tell him he's amazing every time I see him - and I mean amazing onstage, amazing offstage, and just...utterly lovely. Heart of gold, human sunshine, and an unasuming superstar.