Last minute London
September 16, 2007, 1:02 pm
Filed under: travel

Whenever I move somewhere I have grand plans to see everything and do everything there is to be done. I lived in Europe in 2001, and though I explored a lot then there was still much to come back for. I thought in a year in the UK, I’d be able to see everything I wanted to see in this grey but charming country – not likely. I haven’t been sailing near Somerset, had beers with friends in Bristol, celebrated New Years in Yorkshire, and so many other things we had planned that never transpired.

Such is life – I like to have reasons to come back to places.

One thing I’d almost given up on that we managed to do in the nick of time is go to the theatre in London’s West End.

Ian’s a very good lad. Before dashing off to Spain for work he announced that he was going to take me to stay at a five star hotel in London and go to a mystery show, because I’d been wanting to go to the theatre all year. Needless to say I was thrilled, and we went.

We stayed in a nice (but, dare I say it, not five-star nice) hotel with an intelligible and unmemorable name starting with A, opposite Hyde Park. I had to work on the Friday so we rushed down and had a kebab dinner standing up, before arriving at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. There it was revealed we were seeing Wicked – the untold story of the witches of Oz. It’s lucky Ian didn’t wish to keep it a secret right until the curtain opened because the theatre was decked out in green, elaborately prepared for the musical.

I had seen dozens of posters for the musical on the tube in the past year, and based on the posters I thought the play might be a bit lame. I was wrong. It was fantastic. Dianne Pilkington was sensational and hilarious as Glinda. I was incredibly impressed. It’s quite fitting, too, because one of the only memories I have of theatre from my childhood is seeing a performance of Wizard of Oz somewhere in Adelaide. I remember thinking that Toto was a well-trained dog.

I can’t overstate how impressed and appreciative I was with Ian’s organisational efforts. Of all the things I wanted to do this year, I would be least likely to guess that Ian would plan to take me to the theatre in the West End, because Ian hates musicals. He really does. Even if a show that he likes, like Robot Chicken or Scrubs, has a song in it he gets bored and complains. So for Ian to actually decide to give up his Friday night to take me to a musical is a pretty big deal.

I think also Ian now appreciates musicals a little more. Because they’re not about TV shows. They’re about the awesomeness of having 20-odd people singing in harmony on stage. They’re about making eye contact with a star during their finale. They’re about the crazy sets and over-the-top costumes.

During the intermission Ian said he was having a good time, so the producers of Wicked should be pretty happy with themselves. But don’t worry, I’m not going to turn around and start dragging Ian to more musicals. That would be asking a bit much.


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