Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Goodbye Tanner (Part 2)

We are told that saying goodbye is never easy, and its so true. I had never met Tanner, but as you will have gathered from "Goodbye Tanner (Part 1)", he has been very influential to me. Its amazing that in life, some of the most influential people are those who you never get to meet. For some it is politicians, for others its a sports personality. My inspirations however, have been drawn from actors and actresses both on television and in theatre. Tanner was one of these people, so seeing him move on from Billy Elliot certainly had some emotional strings attached to it.

The auditorium of the Victoria Palace theatre had an indescribable atmosphere. It was electric, super charged in fact. I must admit I had concerns as to whether the show would be as good as normal. There were high emotions among the cast who were saying goodbye to a dear friend. You have to remember there are a lot of child actors in this show, so there was the distinct chance that emotions could overcome them and detract from the overall performance. Well this fear was unfounded, what I would get to see in fact would be a performance of a lifetime, and not just from Tanner. Everybody was on form.

I have previously told you how good Tanner's dancing had become. I'm not going to dwell on that in this blog, having spoken of it so much before in part 1. All I will say is that Tanner received a standing ovation after both "Angry Dance" and "Electricity". Both of which were truly deserved. He was well composed, he stayed on top of the game and delivered both routines faultlessly. Angry Dance was aggressive, powerful and expressive, whilst Electricity was smooth and elegant. It was simply fantastic.

What I really want to talk about is bonds. We all make them with people whom we work with. It is at this point where people cease to be a work colleague and become a friend, its the way that the human mind functions. Though tonight there was a very special bond which shone through, between Tanner and George Maycock, who is one of the three boys who play the role of Michael. You have to bare in mind that the two boys joined the show only a couple of months apart, so go right back, unlike Jake and Connor who have only been in the role of Michael for a few months. So there had been plenty of time to build a genuine friendship, and it was on show tonight. There is a song in Billy Elliot called "Solidarity", that is the backbone to every friendship, and you coud tell that Tanner would be leaving behind some pretty solid friends.

I have seen George and Tanner perform together before, and they do work well together it must be said. Though tonight it was evident George was pulling out all the stops, to ensure Tanner's leaving show would go down as one of the best in history. I have never seen George give so much! I have always said how talented he is, but tonight he was something else, every movement was precision planned, every facial expression told a story and as for the "Expressing Yourself" routine, that was picture perfect, the timing, the steps and the singing. I know this show was all about Tanner, but I have to be honest, that was George's best performance to date.

The final scene where Michael says goodbye to Billy was the moment where the show hit me hardest. As Tanner walked away and the curtain fell, George started to tear up, like a dagger through the heart, the kid was broken. This was no longer Michael saying goodbye to Billy. This was George saying goodbye to Tanner. That is when the reality of what was actually happening started to sink in. Seeing George so upset, was horrible. Now I don't know him personally, but there is a human instinct, where if you see a child hurting, you feel for them and I really did feel for George. Its moments like this when you realise how real some elements of this show actually are. This would have been an emotional goodbye for Michael. But for George, he was no longer acting it... he was living it. So powerful... so emotional.

But you know what? After a performance like that, George can stand tall, and know he truly did Tanner's leaving show justice. What a performance! I will never forget that final scene, but for me the memories will be of Tanner's immense ability to perform which was summarised in a beautiful speech by Stephen Daldry at the beginning of the show.

As for Tanner, he was so well composed throughout. He held himself together and as ever his performance never faltered. What can I say? Tanner has never left me disappointed until now, and the only reason I am disappointed is because I know that I will never get to see him again in the role of Billy. In terms of his actual performance he blew me away like he does every time. There will be a huge hole for any future Billy to fill if they want to compete with Tanner's exceptionally high standards! Something tells me that he will he hard to replace.

Right down to his final curtain call Tanner gave so much over the year he was performing as Billy both in London and New York, and personally I am so appreciative of this and for the inspiration he has provided me. So from me, a very special thank you goes out to Tanner! Speaking on behalf of all the Billy Elliot fans, thank you for so many great shows, you are a real life Billy Elliot and may all the luck in the world go hand in hand with your immense talent and bring you all the success you deserve. Thank you so much.

If you are a fan of Tanner feel free to leave a comment, or anything you like. The comment spaces are there for you to use, It would be lovely to hear what other people think of young Tanner!

G xxx


  1. When I first saw Tanner, in July 16th, it was my second show, and I saw it already on various recordings, so I was thinking that nothing can surprise me no more.

    If you don't know who he is and what he does, the first thing you'll notice is the 1/4 smile in his left corner of his mouth. That's something I never saw before. He has the appearance of a regular boy, except he is serious and determined. But if you are lucky, you'll see that "not even half smile" of his.

    And if you are really lucky, you'll see him dance.

    When Tanner did his arabesque in "Shine" I sat motionless in my chair, when he did his pirouettes in "Solidarity" I stopped breathing until it finished and I twitched everytime he posed, when he did his sequence of pirouettes and fouett├ęs in "Electricity" I was in awe.

    When I left the theatre it was raining outside and I was feeling like a small ant in this world, powerless and drained by this awesome show. I was slowly realizing what I have just witnessed.

    Yes, yes, yes. He is poetry in motion.

  2. wow wow, what an amazing review. i read part one, and now part 2, i havent had the plesure of seeing any of the billy elliot shows, i live in scotland, and cant travel, but follow it all on the internet, vir google and u tube..i had tears in my eyes when you said about the last goodbye, what a show that must have been..i love the way you have put it all together, thanks for all that..i'm an old pro ice skater, done most of the moves and spins... i just love the show..