Sunday, 30 August 2009
I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out Dry
So I left you last time with a family reunion and The Doctor and Martha battling The Master. Well you will be pleased to hear that our intrepid time-travellers outwitted the malicious Time Lord. However, my neighbours were not so lucky. Needless to say they weren’t pitted against an alien megalomaniac….merely the drug squad. Yes, it was somewhat of a surprise to discover that just across the road they were operating a cannabis factory. This provided lots of fun for all my other neighbours as we enjoyed a good gossip, and I asked 78 year old Irene upstairs what she would do now she had lost her dealer….
Anyway enough of this nonsense and back to the serious matter of musical theatre! The third show that myself, Adam and Vina attended was “Billy Elliot” at the Victoria Palace. “Billy” is definitely one of my all time favourite shows and I could only hope that my guests would enjoy it as much. There are many things that I love about “Billy Elliot”. I love that it’s got a resolutely British score – very much of the Lionel Bart school. I love the humour and heart of the show. Most of all I love the way that the choreography of the piece, even in a moment where they are simply removing chairs from the stage, moves me like nothing else I have ever seen. It has to be said that I am not one of those people who cries in public. I can sob to any old nonsense sitting at home on my own (for god’s sake even Kerry Mangel being shot on a duck hunt in “Neighbours” accomplished that) but at the theatre and at the cinema I am stoic and can’t even squeeze a solitary tear out. “Billy Elliot” has to be some kind of exception to this though as not only did I cry once, but a further six times. I was a wet soggy mess by the time I left the theatre. Not only does it have the Father – Son relationship which can set me off, but it has “The Letter” from his dead mother too. Oh woe is me!!! It’s quite bizarre to be honest even the, afore-mentioned, chair removing during “Grandma’s Song” managed to make me snivel. I really was an embarrassment that night. In public too! Happily Adam and Vina left every bit as in love with the show as I am, albeit they were far more dignified and managed to hold back the tears.
Alongside our theatre going we continued to watch the Doctor’s escapades, now with Donna at his side, and the odd half hour of Judi Dench in “As Time Goes By” to provide us with a gentler form of televisual delight. We did however have one final show to go and see before Adam and Vina returned to the other side of the world.
So another theatre and another musical. I could even say another cross dresser as so far every show we had seen (“La Cage”,”Hairspray” and “Billy Elliot”) had seen men in some kind of frock. Our final show was no exception, although in this instance the men were dressed as nuns, for I was finally seeing “Sister Act”. I had seen bits of the show since it began previews but this was the first time I was seeing the whole thing in all it’s glory so I was particularly looking forward to it. We were joined by Adam’s friend Zara, who had been living in London for two years yet had never been to the theatre, along with my Thai neighbour’s niece, Pla. Pla is apparently a nick name and means fish (!!!)
“Sister Act” is a rare creature. A totally brand new show with a totally new score. Thank goodness that the producers didn’t take the easy path and regurgitate the songs from the movie. Instead they persuaded the oscar winning Alan Menken and his collaborator Glenn Slater (also the lyricist of the upcoming “Love Never Dies”) to compose one of the most entertaining collections of songs we have seen in the West End for many years. My particular favourite part of the show has to be “How I Got The Calling” when the nun’s explain how they came to the church, but there are many other catchy songs such as “Take Me To Heaven” and “Fabulous Baby”. The show really comes to life when Deloris gets the nuns singing of course, and I should mention Sweaty (or sticky as a colleague calls him) Eddie’s solo turn that has a really clever costume change……I’m not going to say any more though in case you haven’t see it yet. A final comment can only be that amongst a fantastic cast you we were left in no doubt that in Patina Miller we had witnessed a real star of the future. She is one sister who is not only doing it for herself but will go far!
We had an amazing night and Zara probably had the highest praise in that she had such a good time that she definitely wants to see more theatre after her first taste of a show. Possibly one of the funniest moments was provided by Pla however. Pla is terminally shy, shy to the point that she ran up the stairs at the interval to avoid talking to us and we didn’t see her again until the beginning of the second half. Seemed a bit fishy to me!
So four musicals (and around forty cross-dressers), a mis-diagnosed mini-stroke and swine flu, eggs Benedict and Salvador Dali, not to mention around twenty five episodes of “Doctor Who” a good couple of dozen “As Time Goes By’s” and a drugs bust, and it was finally time to say goodbye to Adam and Vina.
Adam followed his fortnight in London with ten days with our “Oma” in Germany and the following day I received the text “I am already bored in this sh***y little village”. Vina headed back to Mayotte after spending a few days with her centenarian father in Mauritius and I was left in a rather empty seeming flat only to discover that I had become hooked to the romantic comedy of Lionel and Jean. I can only hope that it’s not twelve years until Adam and Vina come and stay again. I may have been at home but it was as good a holiday as I have ever had.
Very much off topic but I have been asked by redcoat extraordinaire Anthony Bristoe to mention an upcoming event. Scott Alan is a much loved songwriter from the states who has released two albums, “Dreaming Wide Awake” and “Keys” with vocals from the cream of broadways performers such as Liz Callaway, Sutton Foster, Shoshana Bean, Cheyenne Jackson and London’s own Kerry Ellis. Both albums are great and well worth buying however to get a more personal experience of his music Scott Alan is heading to these shores.
Simon Greiff (“Saturday Night Fever” cast member) is producing “The Music Of Scott Alan” at the Leicester Square Theatre for two performances on Sunday 11th October. Scott will be joined by a host of west end stars including Patina Miller, Caroline Sheen, Annalene Beechey, David Bedella and star of the upcoming “Love Never Dies”, Ramin Karimloo. The show’s promise to sell out quickly so be sure to check out www.leicestersquaretheatre.com for details of how to book.