Friday, 11 June 2010

Liam: My Greatest Influence

"Its not how long you spend with someone its the fact you spent time with them at all"

That introduction of mine, isn't an epic piece of Gareth style philosophy, it was lifted from the TV series "Shameless" a few weeks back. For a show that is namely a comedy, that line struck some chords, after all it is incredibly deep. I am sure anyone reading this can relate to it in one way or another, I certainly can.

As you may have gathered, I have always been someone who generates motivation from others. Within acting and performance there are a select handful of influential people, the elite I suppose you could call them... who stand out over and above the rest, they are the people who guide and shape me within acting. To date I have mentioned all of them, except one. Why would I leave someone who is such an influence out of my blogs? I guess you could say that sometimes people go beyond being influential, and in fact become very special. Talking about people who influence me is just an extension of my acting work, talking of those who are really special to me, takes things to a new depth. A personal depth, which I am not too revealing about. Until now that is! Is it just me... or did that line sound like something you would hear on a TV advert for OK magazine? Like an exclusive or something.

At this stage I will say there are some questions I have left unanswered about myself, all I will say at this point, in the infinite words of a fantastic musical "La Cage Aux Folles" - I am what I am! I have always believed people can take me or leave me for who I am... so as I take these blogs to a new personal level, I will let you draw your own judgements.

So who exactly is this person I have avoided talking about in my blogs until now? His name is Liam Mower. To many he is the first Billy Elliot from the West End Musical of the same name. I have to admit, it does bug me when people only see him as this. Its just like when people think David Tennant did nothing before Doctor Who, he in fact is a fantastic actor who has spent a lot of time bringing to life the works of Shakespeare, having worked with the RSC among other things!

I appreciate actors do get type casted as the characters they are most famous for portraying, however beyond this narrow minded view lays an interesting person with much more depth and character than he is given credit for. Thats how I see Liam.... and yes I am very bias in his favour... I will admit this, but you have to be pretty shallow to think that there is nothing more to Liam than Billy Elliot.

Firstly and foremost he is a fantastic dancer and has been training the bulk of his life to get to the standard he is at now. Thinking back to the 5th Anniversary show, his turns were phenomenal. At this point you will have to forgive my lack of ballet terms, I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, though over the last 18 months I most certainly have acquired a greater appreciation of dance. Liam trains at The Rambert School of Ballet & Contemporary Dance in Twickenham, and his standards were head and shoulders over and above anyone else on the stage that night. The hard work he must have put in over the last couple of years is phenomenal.

As a performing medium, I never realised how enjoyable it could be to watch. Two or three years ago I would have laughed off me ever enjoying dance. Liam, among others opened my eyes to this, in essence expanded my horizons. Hell I have even dabbled with a bit of dance myself, I wouldn't have done that if it weren't for Liam. I say dabbled, I am frankly awful in my opinion, but I will always give it a go!

But beyond Liam the dancer is such a nice person also! Ok, I appreciate I don't know him personally, but you can tell a lot about someone by the way they behave around others. I have yet to find anyone who has a bad word to say about the guy! In my eyes he is the kind of person we would all like to know, someone who you are proud to know. Friendly, caring, has time for everyone. The only thing is when you set standards so high, you have to be prepared for your perceptions to be shattered.

I was prepared for this, although I am sure I would have found it hard to digest. I had decided that on the night of the 5th Birthday of Billy Elliot the Musical, I would arrive at the theatre much later than normal. I usually like to be somewhere in good time, however the inevitable crowd of over enthusiastic Billy and Elton John fans was more than I was willing to handle. I was excited however about the prospect of seeing and possibly meeting Liam, not that I knew what to say to him if I did have the chance, I was a bag of nerves and worrying far too much. As I arrived I saw a friend who filled me in on what had been happening around the theatre before the landmark show. I was gutted to find out that Liam had been mingling and chatting among fans, but had since gone back in to the theatre... my opportunity to meet someone so special to me... had i thrown it away in my decision to arrive later than normal?

This meant if I were to meet my idol I would need to meet him after the show... but there would be a party for the cast, and I am sure everyone would be hanging around especially the Billy Forum loyal. My chances were slim, but for me this meant everything. Only issue was whether he would emerge or not. I must admit I don't like hanging around unless there is a cause. But this was a cause and a very important one at that.

I was fortunate enough to be with Rob Carrington, a good friend of mine and his son Eliot who had been in the show a few months before hand. Rob is full of moral support and understood what this meant to me, he urged me to wait it out... and i did.... I waited.... and waited... I missed my last direct train, then the last indirect train home.... I was starting to feel at that point it could be a lost cause, and despite the still huge number of people around I contemplated heading home... well at least somewhere close to home seeing as I had missed my train.

Then at that very moment where I was about to walk away.... Liam appeared. Was it an oman of some sort that he appeared at the very moment I was about to give up? Despite all the chaos with the Billy birthday bash going on, Liam found time to talk to everyone who wanted to talk to him, and pose for photographs. You have to remember he was under no obligation to go meet and greet people, many former cast members opted not to socialise with the fans, so I find it really sweet that Liam built this into his evening. I know it meant a lot to so many people, me especially.

Needless to say this was my chance also, to meet someone who had made such a positive difference to me. I grasped the opportunity, I'd missed my last train home, but it was a price worth paying. I had a nice little chat with Liam, and a photo or two. In reality this was maybe 2 minutes, but to me it seemed to last forever, which is nice. So remember that saying i opened this blog with? "Its not how long you spend with someone its the fact you spent time with them at all", well thats how I feel. Sure I would love to get to know Liam better, I would love to be able to spend more time with him, but the fact I have had the opportunity to spend that little amount of time with him in the first place is something in a league of its own.

For me though it just felt great to thank him for inspiring me so much. A thank you is priceless and can mean a lot to someone. I know if I had ever inspired someone and they told me it would mean a hell of a lot to me. Whats more that evening has inspired me further, think back to that oman i talked of, when he appeared just as I wanted to give up. Now every time I feel like giving up in anything that I do, I think back to that moment and it makes me realise that giving up will bring me nothing.

So there you have it, my biggest inspiration and someone who means so very much to me. Trust me I have only just scraped the surface on why he is so special in my eyes, there is so much more. None the less I hope you have enjoyed this new deeper and more personal blog... its been a hard one to write, its taken a long time to complete purely because its dug deeper than I have ever needed to dig before in my writings. But you know its about Liam... so its worth it!


  1. Nice post Gareth!
    I will never forget that night when I also met him, what a nice guy :)

    His a la seconde turns were very good and he had center stage, he was obviously the highlight of the highlights.

    You said that "his standards were head and shoulders over and above anyone else on the stage that night". It is very true but there was one who is a pretty close match, bearing in mind he is 2 years younger. Matthew Koon.

    I hope you'll meet Liam many times in the future!

  2. I think you do a dis-service to the other boys on that stage that night. There are some amazing dancers up there and yes, we all have favourites. Liam is a very talented dancer, so is Matthew, but don't forget that both Olly Taylor and Josh Fedrick were associates with the Royal Ballet School, indeed Olly still is. To say Liam was head and shoulders above the others is therefore an over exaggeration. Indeed, having seen them both perform individually away from Billy, I would have to say that Matthew does have the edge over Liam as far as ballet is concerned. However, they are both extremely talented ballet dancers.

    I have to agree with one thing, Liam is indeed a very pleasant, polite and indeed humble young man. Attributes that many people older than him could do with learning.

    I'm glad Liam is an inspiration to you and I do hope you get to meet him again. He is certainly someone that is worth being inspired by.