You saw that we went to the Philharmonic and Rick had recitals at St. James. We also saw a guitar concert with Jenny and T earlier in our London time. But I had theatre on my mind. And actually, our first theatre venture bombed. Bad planning!
After our Sunday at the St. Paul's and the Tate and after a break, we thought we'd go down to the West End and catch a dinner and a play. I wanted to see Eileen Atkins ("The Crown" and "Doc Martin") and Jonathan Pryce (from the original "Miss Saigon" and "Evita" film) in "The Height of the Storm," a contemporary drama by a French playwright. When we got to the West End the theatre was dark and street guys were laying in the doorways. We decided we were early and went to find a restaurant.
We happened upon Giovanni's, an Italian restaurant on Bow Street. Since it was only a couple of hours before show time, we were curious as to why it was practically empty but it looked lovely so in we went.
And it was. A fine dinner, a rather engaging duo of (probably) owner and waiter. The owner had been there forever and photos of famous diners (well, at least photos of famous people) covered the walls.
The food was good (but beware of upcharging!).
Then back to the theatre, still closed. And then we realized, we should have checked to see if there was even anything going on!
So, we walked around a bit and while we didn't gamble there, checked out the Hippodrome, now a casino. It had great bathrooms.
This very famous spot was, in the day, the variety palace where people like Charlie Chaplin and Archie Leach (Cary Grant) performed, along with a ten-year-old Julie Andrews and Houdini (not all at the same time!). It was worth a wander.
(The next night we returned and did indeed see the show -- and it was well worth the trip back.)
I am a great fan of theatre architecture and the Wyndham, where "Height of the Storm" played, is quite a beautiful theatre. There really isn't a bad seat because it's not overly large. (A little cramped, perhaps, but not a bad view.)
And I appreciated the detail in the set design as well. It was quite a remarkable and thought provoking play, one which Rick and I have discussed more than once since our return and several months later.
One of the things I wanted to see in London was Stephen Sondheim's "Company." I love Sondheim and this time Bobby, the male lead was Bobbie, a female and the show, originally set in the 1970s, was updated with Sondheim's support.
My Canadian friend Suzanne and her husband Jim were in London then too and we saw the show together. It was a bit hairy getting to the theatre. Rick and I had gone separate ways late in the afternoon and I told him the wrong tube line to take; then I took a couple of wrong turns out of the tube myself and got there just in the nick of time!
But again, worth every penny. I hope they bring it to Broadway.
(Or at least do a CD. Rosalie Craig was a terrific singer and Patti LuPone just killed "The Ladies Who Lunch.")
And no, I didn't see this. But isn't it a great theatre facade?
I could have hit the theatre every night but I was with Rick who also wanted to hear some classical music. He did catch a second recital at St. James later in the week, this time piano/oboe. He enjoyed chatting with the musicians after.
And we also enjoyed quite a wonderful evening at St. Martin's in the Fields, where they offer classical chamber concerts.
It was a nice way to see this beautiful church, one that seems to extend into its community with great outreach.
We caught a concert featuring some of the more well known composers -- the A List -- and Rick was worried that the music might be all the old chestnuts you associate with these guys, but we were pleasantly surprised.
And, the atmosphere was quite lovely and the sound very good indeed.
Theatre tickets can be pretty pricey, but the concert tickets were surprisingly reasonable. And of course, some of the best entertainment is free!
(Although a coin or two in the collection box is always welcome!)
- If you really want to see something, get tickets in advance. We did have our "Company" tickets in advance (and didn't realize it was opening night! It was fun reading reviews, knowing critics saw the same performance we did!) You can order online from home.
- Or, pick up tickets at the box office if you think you can get your show. You'll save in ticketing fees.
- Or, go to the Leicester Square half off booth to get a good deal. (There are imitations; beware!)
- Don't make our mistake and end up at the theatre on a "dark" night!
- Again, don't forget to check churches for recitals and concerts or even a service or Evensong for more classical music.
- Dining Out in the West End -- Plan ahead or allow plenty of time if you are seeing a show. And don't overlook the obscure. You might have fun at a fish and chips vendor. And beware of upcharging. At Giovanni's, they asked us if we would like bread, which is quite common in the states as complimentary. When we got the bill, we found out it was not at all complimentary!
- One of our favorite places was "The Crypt" located in the basement of St. Martin's in the Fields. You have limited choices -- whatever is being served in the cafeteria line -- but it's good food, wine is available and the price is reasonable.
And besides, the atmosphere is pretty neat and you can't beat the location, right across from Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery. Speaking of which, it's time to get back into some art in the Trafalgar Square area!