Thursday, August 4, 2011


 As I've seen shows here in London, I've written up my reactions, but I wanted to keep them altogether.  Now that I've seen my final show, here's a post dedicated to the wonderful professional performances I've been lucky enough to attend.

Billy Elliot July 16, 2011

Billy Elliot is about a boy who just wants to dance. He comes across his talent when he is instructed to give the key to the woman who has the studio after his boxing class. This all happens with the UK Miner strike from the 80s in the background. Billy's father is a proud man and hates the idea of his son dancing like some "puff."

For me, dance is enjoyable in context, and there are moments in the show when dance just takes over. I'm not usually a fan of spontaneous moments of dance, but certain parts really moved me. The story line is also very emotional, since Billy's mother dies before the show begins. I have to agree with a fellow traveler, Kalyca, that the most beautiful scene of the show is when young Billy dances with a version of himself that he can become. It is absolutely beautiful. This show was part of our regularly scheduled activities, and I'm very glad that it was.

The 39 Steps July 23, 2011

The 39 Steps is loosely based on the Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name. I'm familiar with Hitchcock the man, but not his works. Thanks to Cassie some of allusions to Hitchcock were pointed out and made the play a bit more relevant. In the first few minutes of The 39 Steps, Richard Hanney takes home a woman with a secret who gets murdered in his apartment. After discovering her body, he sets off to solve the mystery and finds himself in more trouble than he bargained for.

This play was absolutely hilarious. The entire show was put on by four people; the only actor that remained one character was the lead. The other three actors played everyone else. Shows like this are amazing as they are usually low tech which means the show rests entirely on the shoulders of the actors. The comedy was very slapstick with actors waving their coats and hair when the wind is supposed to blow. Here is where the fourth wall tended to be broken because the third or so time actors had to keep up the ruse the audience was given the "We-shouldn't-have-to-do-this-anymore" look. The cast was fantastic and pulled off every bit of it.  We saw the show on a night when one of the understudies filled in. I'm sure the usual actor is wonderful as well, but I could not imagine seeing this show any other way. 

Seeing this show and having a laugh was Cassie's wonderful idea. I'm very glad we decided to get dolled up and head out on Saturday night. If you need a laugh right now, click the link above to watch the trailer. 

Anne Boleyn July 27, 2011

The image above is of the new Globe Theatre where Anne Boleyn is performed. As a classmate pointed out, the style was that of Shakespeare's time, but the content would have been banned. This is dramedy romance about Henry VIII and his mistress Anne Boleyn. Honestly, I don't know much about this bit of English history, but I'm very much intrigued after seeing the play. (For a description click the link above)

I liked the aspects of the Elizabethan additions including the actors greeting the audience. The stage was also a thrust stage so the actors occasionally used the hallway sized segment to expand out into the audience. They also used stairs on the sides, so again they navigate through the audience to make their entrance. I love when theatrical elements like that are out in the open instead of behind-the-scenes.

The show was also pretty funny. I know she gets her head cut off, but the actor who played King James I was excellent with his fits. The entire cast was wonderful and kept me enthralled, especially since I was previously unaware of Anne's part in the shift in religious affiliation in England. As I said, I need to find out more about this subject.

Les Miserables August 2, 2011

Amazing. That's really the only word that is appropriate for a show like Les Miserables, which is probably why it's been running for 25 years. I was hoping to see Alfie Boe play Jean Valjean, but that just wasn't in the cards tonight. Even so, Jonathan Williams was amazing. You'd have to be made of stone to not cry when he sings "Bring Him Home."

Most people know the story of Les Mis, but they may not understand why its so phenomenal. It is packed full of emotion as people understand how the world changes around them and how things that seems black and white are really full of gray.

Also the elements and story arcs come full circle. It is pure genius to create a character like Javare who is disliked for being staccato and ruthless to  garnering pity when his world collapses around him. And he's just one of the many stories included in the musical.

There is so much for me to say about this show yet so few words to actually express it. The US tour is starting later this year or early next year, but it has been re-imagined without the turntable stage. I'm very lucky to have seen it at it's home in the Queen's Theatre with a stellar cast. It's so good that I already intend to see it  when it comes through Jacksonville. If it's a show you've been planning to see but haven't gotten around to, I highly highly highly (as in I cannot recommend it enough!) recommend that you see this show. Be sure to bring your tissues.

No comments:

Post a Comment