Ex-Scar­let’s a panto star

Moon’s lov­ing life on stage

Llanelli Star - - FRONT PAGE - Robert Lloyd @rl­loy­dpr [email protected]­line.co.uk 07765 287910

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.

Picture: David Man­ton

Ru­pert Moon will star in panto along­side Owen Money.

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