Ex-Scarlet’s a panto star
Moon’s loving life on stage
WELSH rugby legend Rupert Moon is loving his time as a pantomime star – Oh, yes, he is!
The 51-year-old has a starring role in Owen Money’s touring panto, Buttons Undone.
“I’m The Baron and I’m loving every minute of it . . . Oh, yes, I am,” the former Llanelli and Wales scrumhalf joked.
“It may seem like a world away from life on the rugby field, but in many ways it’s not – you’ve got a paying audience that you want to entertain and you do your best to put on a great show.”
With a full name like Rupert Henry St John Barker Moon, it was perhaps destiny that put the rugby hero on the stage – although the challenge of fitting his full name on the show posters has not been accepted by the printers.
Capped 24 times for Wales, Moon has been spending his playing ‘retirement’ years as a rugby administrator, working in business and involved in charity work, public speaking and personal appearances.
“I wasn’t looking for a role in panto – it sort of found me by accident,” Moon explained.
“I was having a meeting about an education project I was doing with the construction industry training board CITB and Llanelli-based WRW Construction. We were in Blanco’s Hotel in Port Talbot when I bumped into Owen Money.
“Owen is always full of ideas and he said, ‘ I’m glad I’ve seen you. How do you fancy sharing a role in an adult panto with Wynne Evans?’
“Roy Noble had been scheduled to do it, but he hasn’t been well. I am big pals with Wynne Evans (star of Radio Wales and Go Compare) as we have done lots of work together, including a charity bike ride to Paris.
“As it turns out, Wynne is such a busy boy that he couldn’t manage all the panto tour dates. So, then we managed to get Julian Lewis Jones, the Nantgaredig-based actor involved. Julian is well known to everyone for being Crazy Karl Morris in Stella and loads of other film work, so it seemed like a neat fit for us to job-share the role of The Baron.
“So, that’s how we’ve ended up. I do some nights and Julian does the others. Altogether, the tour is about 20 shows, all around South Wales.
“We’ve already done Llanelli – at the Ffwrnes Theatre – so you can imagine that was great fun, seeing all my Llanelli friends in the audience. I’m also particularly looking forward to doing Carmarthen’s Lyric Theatre and The Grand Theatre in Swansea.”
Moon has had a ‘fringe’ involvement with the world of theatre for a number of years now.
“My good friend, the late, great Ray Gravell, was president of The Friendship Theatre Group in Llanelli and Gorseinon. With Denny Twp (Denys Jenkins) and friends, they have done great charitable work down the years.
“When Ray died, they asked if I’d become the Friendship president, which was a great honour for me.
“Since then, I’ve been gradually enticed onto the stage, first to make the president’s speech and then to say a word or two.
“So, I seem to have tiptoed my way into the acting thing!”
Moon said he was loving the greasepaint and the footlights of the panto world.
“There are some proper singers and actors in the panto – Sue Roderick is fabulous, as are James Williams and the rest of the cast.
“Essentially, I don’t act. To be fair to the other guys, I basically play myself.
“I do sing on a couple of occasions, in my best Jimmy Nail-type voice, but I’m not really there as a singing star.
“The cast have been great to work with. They are very professional, very polished, and I do my best to fit in around them.
“I was really nervous when starting out. It was a bit like running out at the old Stradey Park for your first game. It was really a case of taking me out of my comfort zone, but it’s been great fun. It’s hugely enjoyable and being a performer is quite addictive.
“Rather like my old rugby days, you step out there on the stage – as the field of play – and you don’t want to let anyone down. You are part of a team, like being in a rugby side.”
As for where this acting thing leads, who knows?
“If Jimmy Nail can get a part in Evita, I could get a part in Game of Thrones,” Moon chuckled.
Rupert Moon will star in panto alongside Owen Money.