Benjamin Yates in Tommy
Benjamin Yates was the first of my Palladium Jellicles who I had the chance to catch up with after the West End run of the show ended, and the timing was just perfect as the run in Blackpool happened to coincide with the visit of a family friend of our from Seychelles who had always been intrigued by the theatre and my stage dooring trips. The trip was not my finest hour in terms of planning as I ended up forgetting to pack half of the things I needed, but it definitely didn't dampen things too much as the sunny weather and an impromptu meeting with Ben as we walked around Blackpool that afternoon made for a really lovely day before the show. Ben was kind enough to stop and chat briefly and we told him about our friend from Seychelles and he was so kind and friendly - Ben is so easy to talk to and it was a really perfect way to introduce our friend to what he had always tried to explain about how genuine and kind all the people we had ever met in shows always were. The show itself was really excellent and it actually surprised me how much I enjoyed it as it was never I show I had really paid much attention to - I was so glad to get a taste of a really different kind of show and the energy and talent of the cast really sold it and definitely managed to infect the audience with their enthusiasm which was lovely as when I had seen Cats in Blackpool the audience's lack of enthusiasm had really surprised me and I was really hoping for a better experience for our friend, which was definitely the case. Ben himself was phenomenal, honestly: I was blown away by just how incredible his singing was when he was allowed to really let loose with it, which is something he never really had room to do in Cats - he blew me away and I was beaming for pretty much the entire performance, and Ben was sweet enough to grin back at me in the finale, even shooting me a little wink after I cheered him. At stage door afterwards he was kind enough to give me yet more of his time, catching up and chatting with me about Cats and also about our friend and our family's Seychelles connection and I came away feeling so happy and so grateful that not only had I got such an amazing taster of a brand new show but also that Ben had really given our friend such a perfect impression both onstage and off of why I kept coming back to the theatre and my Jellicles so much. What Ben (hopefully) didn't know is that we also accidentally ended up stalking him halfway through the Blackpool streets as we somehow looped around and ended up behind him and some of his friends for the cast when my dad decided to get a photo of us all in front of the tower when it was lit up - hence why I am looking worriedly over my shoulder in one of the pictures, as I was desperately hoping Ben hadn't seen me and wasn't about to think I was following him...though, honestly, Ben had been so gracious to me so many times before when we had run into each other by accident during his time in Cats that he probably wouldn't have minded, it was almost traditional by that point actually!