West end – musical or drama

I love the theatre so with three weeks in London I just had to hit the West End. I’m not a big fan of musicals which probably puts me in the minority judging by the major shows in London. 

As an aside, I have seen enough musicals to judge. I’ve seen West Side Story (a couple of times), Dirty Dancing (also a couple of times), Lion KingJersey Boys and Mary Poppins. My review of Wicked at interval was there were too many songs. And then there’s all the musical films. 

So let’s get my sadness out of the way. I didn’t get tickets to see The Ruling Class with James McAvoy. Missed out while I was debating what to see. Missed later, despite being put on a wait list of 45 minutes with two computers for the limited release on the first of the month. Yes, I know I could try the last minute ticket booth. Actually checked it out one evening. Nothing! And I can’t plan my whole break around one play. 

OK, let’s move on. 

I went to see Mousetrap. Touristy. Yes. Cliched. Yes. Dated. Yes. I read a review that said it was tired and unsophisticated. I would disagree. It is of its time. And it’s time is not now. The production is a victim as well as a product of its ongoing success. Change would ruin the tradition and perhaps kill the demand. One elderly couple were reminiscing where they say last time. 

63 years!  And some of the set is original, apparently. 

And therein lies the rub. The set is static. It lacks the symbolism, the dynamism and the originality modern theatregoers expect. 

The script is not the best. Again, Agatha Christie’s work has been rewritten, reworked, adapted for TV. So her work has been modernised for a modern audience. Think Poirot. Some series of Miss Marple. (Now’s not the time to enter into which Miss Marple was no good.) Frankly there were parts that were downright annoying. Frustrating. Stupid. 

The acting was fine. It was the script. Of course, there’s a twist. There always is. 

Despite all this I am glad I went. I love theatre and I love Christie. This was like stepping back in time. 

The only thing I would do differently: I bought expensive seats so we would have leg room. Mr S is not a fan of theatre and he hates having no room to stretch his legs. If he was cramped, he might walk out. Really there was no need to buy more expensive seats. The auditorium was empty. It was a week night in March (which may be meaningless anyway as the rest of the West End was buzzing.)

My advice: buy cheap tickets and move after they shut the doors.

The second play was The Book of Mormon. It was absolutely brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I was a little apprehensive least the positive reviews were just spin. What if my lack of love for musicals was ignited? And I read a couple that said it didn’t live up to the hype and one that said Matilda was better.  Don’t care. It was brilliant. I laughed so much. The dancing! The singing! The humour!

Again I bought more expensive seats so Mr S could have leg room. And found out after I booked that there are actually more than one ticket supplier. Go figure how that works! So if you have time to compare all the suppliers you may get cheaper tickets. Still, it was sold out. Don’t know how many got last minute deals?!?

Definitely worth the cost. (Which was huge!) Much more than we pay in Sydney. But this is THE West End. And the quality of execution is nothing compared to Sydney performances. Even Mr S, who never sits through a musical, sat through this and thoroughly enjoyed himself. 

Worth saving and doing. 

We did the matinee, then went out for drinks and then walked to the tube. The city was absolutely buzzing. Packed with crowds clearly enjoying themselves. There was a air of expectation of summer. A coming out to enjoy the spring. (The day was sunny and warm but the night Ir was positively freezing. So the air of expectation was premature.)

What an amazing city!

Look what we spied before we hoped on the tube. 


13 thoughts on “West end – musical or drama

  1. I went to see The Mousetrap in 1962 when my newly married sister was living n Streatham. At 15 I thought I was the bee’s knees, going down to London on my own by train and staying for the weekend with my sister and brother-in-law who took me to see the play. Probably my first time at a London Theatre. My husband and I saw Matilda last year ( or the year before, time goes so fast I loose track!) and it was MARVELLOUS ! Enjoy the rest of your time in my country. I’m going to your country on Sunday for a week – Sydney! From NZ though, not the UK!

    • And you would have been the bee’s knees. Any 15 yo would feel excited. Still. And London in the 60s! How exciting!!! I could stay here and keep going to the theatre except for that dastardly thing – earning an income. Enjoy Sydney. Far more civilised flying time.

  2. I love musicals! Jesus Christ Superstar and Les Mis are my faves. Would now like to see the two you have reviewed.
    Sounds like you’re still having a blast!

      • Scarily, I am actually tempted by that plan. Love, love that city! I don’t mind the crowds but the cold would be a challenge.

  3. The only theatre I get to see is local amateur productions, which I love. You won’t believe it, but there is a thriving and passionate theatre scene here in little Launceston, in a fab, historic theatre. Half the fun of attending is spotting the children’s music, drama and ballet teachers, or family friends. The productions have only got better since Tasmania became the downshifting place to be for retiring artists and musicians.

    Of course, this doesn’t compare with your fab West End experience – I am glad you are enjoying yourself madly. Can you keep up the pace? You have such stamina!

    • I’ve attended community theatre and had a ball. Same thrill of seeing people I know. I could imagine Tassie is becoming a right hub of creativity.

      And you are very insightful. I am not keeping up the pace. We call this a trip not a holiday. Big adventures every day. Full days, almost like being a work. And I collapse on the lounge. Felt a bit sickly last night. 6 days to go.

  4. Book of Mormon sounds like a lot of fun. I love musicals, though! (Can’t believe that the Lion King didn’t make a musical lover of you!) I did the same as you and bought upgraded seats the last time I went to a play, and I regretted it. I would rather be a bit cramped. The viewing angle was the same. Love your last two photos!

    • Book of Mormon mocks Lion King. Mr S hated songs on Lion King. When he found out Elton John was involved, all became clear. He doesn’t like his work. As to musicals, some I love, most could do with some culling of songs.

  5. I do love a good musical. Mr. G on the other hand . .

    I haven’t seen Book of Mormon but now I want to! So glad you’re have a wonderful time! I’ve never heard of seats with more leg room – I’m sure Mr. G would be a fan. I’m short so the space is usually comfortable for me.

    • Book of Momon is rather rude. So if you find South Park not funny or you hate swearing, don’t ho. Otherwise, see it and split your sides laughing and come away feeling really good.

      The seats are at the front of blocks of seats with a walk way in front. Hence the extra leg room. They don’t usually charge more for these in Sydney. More pot luck if you get them. But London is obviously better at making money.

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