The previous night a little birdy had told me that Tanner would be performing at the Saturday matinee. Its really hard to find out who is on when, but sometimes you just strike it lucky and get that inside scoop. Having found out that Tanner would be appearing at this show I was ecstatic, like a kid at Christmas, or something like that anyway. I never have been a huge fan of Chhristmas, there is all that excitement and build up, then every year it just ends up being... well... so damn average. The presents soon lose their excitement, we all eat too much and feel sick, and there's never anything interesting to watch on television.
Anyhow, I had already planned to be at the matinee show as I was relishing the opportunity to see George Maycock again in the role of Michael. Remember George? I mentioned him in the blog "The Inspiration", last month. So there were now two reasons as to why I was looking forward to this show. With each person I spoke to I was getting more excited about the prospect of seeing Tanner. The reviews of his performances were consistent and all very favorable. I must admit in the back of my mind I was concerned that Fox may have competition as my favorite Billy if Tanner lived up to these expectations.
I had met up with Dennis again, and after a short chat I was in my seat ready for the show. I have to be honest it wasn't the best seat going, but this wasn't a problem. Whenever I am in a naff seat I always look around me for the opportunity to move to somewhere with a better view. Further down the row near the centre aisle I saw two empty seats and like a predator stalking its prey I pounced the minute the interval kicked in. With the swan lake and electricity scenes in the second act it was crucial my view was not impeded, after all its taken me this long to see Tanner, I simply didn't want to miss a second of what was to come.
In musical theatre there are three main disciplines, these being singing, dancing and acting. All actors always have stronger disciplines than others, and honestly in most actors you can always spot their strengths and weaknesses. For me singing would be my current clear weakness,.. but i'm working on this. Tanner however has the most angelic voice when he sings, whilst his voice is breaking which is most notable when he is speaking, his singing is something else. He has such a gentle singing voice and as for his technique its faultless. I think it is very fair to say that he is the best singer of the current Billy's. Singing "The Letter" so softly with such emotion conveyed in his voice, it brings a tear to even a grown mans eye.
I will be honest his acting isn't quite as good as some of the other Billy's. Don't get me wrong, he is very good but the standard set by the others is so high that you have to be an outstanding actor to be at that level. But like I said all actors excel at certain disciplines better than they do others. Tanner has a real ability to express himself with his facial expressions, and they really do speak a thousand words, especially in the comical scenes. I really don't want to take anything away from Tanner's performance because if his singing isn't enough to win you over what I am about to tell you next really is.
Tanner has been described as an outstanding ballet dancer. I think the word outstanding is not very imaginative as it doesn't even touch on the skills this kid has. He far exceeded the ability that I thought would be possible for any human being. His posture was always spot on, and his movement as graceful and elegant as a sunset on a summers evening. The scene where he dances with his older self played by Barnaby Meredith truly is something else. I have always been amazed at this scene as the choreography, and specifically its timing is impeccable with any of the Billy's. But this isn't just any Billy, this is Tanner Pflueger, and alongside Barnaby he some how makes this already perfect scene... well better than perfect. I am genuinely struggling for words. When you see two great ballet dancers upon the stage performing like this emotion simply overcomes you. This wasn't just me being over emotional I assure you, I looked around me and others were just as taken in by this as me.
So Electricity... this is Billy's big moment in the show, and for me it is the song that makes or breaks a Billy. What I saw was simply beautiful. using every inch of the stage Tanner demonstrated the full spectrum of his abilities, and its when you see this you realise just how great a dancer he is. I think the street dance moves which Ollie and Fox pull off have a bigger wow factor on face value, however let yourself connect with the ballet and you feel just as much energy coming from the routine. I had barley recovered from the emotion of the swan lake scene yet I found myself overcome once more. How was he managing this? It was like somehow subliminally the ballet and I had become one... cheesy maybe, but i really did feel this, it was so powerful. Just wow... that sums Tanner up... no not wow... WOW!!! Thats better.
I sometimes feel acting in the role of Michael is a bit harder than Billy. Ok sure the work load and the stage time for Billy is far greater, but Michael's personality is much deeper than Billy's. Michael is a boy with a big heart and a bigger personality. He is a kid growing up experiencing things many of us did. Ok I am not insinuating that we all dress up in our sisters dresses, but at the heart of Michael's dilemma is a boy trying to discover just who he is. I think we as audience members can truly identify with this in the Christmas scene where he kisses Billy. Its such a nice scene where an uncomfortable Billy plays down the incident, which is a great move in the story, as it leaves the question of Billy's feelings for Michael wide open. I like a bit of mystery.
Either way it takes someone truly special to play the role of Michael, its not a role for just anyone. Connor Doyle as I already mentioned is superb in this role. But today I would be seeing George Maycock. This would be just the second time I have had such a privilege, so how would he fair? Having been with the show longer than any of his fellow actors in the same role, he has had the time to settle into the part and build upon the foundations of the character he started with all those months ago. George has really developed as an actor since I saw him last, and this is where the experience shows. He seems so comfortable on stage, he even makes the tap dancing scene look effortless. What I like most about George is his ability to convey whatever he is doing with such innocence. Throughout he builds on Michael's personality which allows you to relate to him so much more. This all comes down to that innocence I just described, as George's character isn't all about making a scene, rather he allows Michael to simply be himself. Its a wonderful touch of acting and character development that reminds us of just who Michael really is, and Its also a testament to George's ability as a performer.
Soooooo... What a show, everyone was fantastic and full credit to Tanner, Barnaby and George for providing what was without a doubt the most emotional show I have been to so far. So is Tanner now my favorite Billy? Well he is right up there thats for sure. This show was very special to me, but there is just something about Fox which will always keep him at the number one spot... but more about him tomorrow.