Traveler’s Tales: London Theatre

When you don’t live in big city, visiting a place like London or New York means one thing: theater!

I’ve attended the theatre in London seven times in the last three years and have a couple pointers for those interested in visiting the West End.

1. Don’t expect familiar musicals to be exactly what you’re used to.

We saw Les Miserables the first night in the city with a crowd of tourists–I’m assuming the thirty Japanese school girls in uniform were tourists. I’d seen it before in Seattle and Honolulu but this was a first for my youngest children and they were very excited–particularly since we’d just been in Paris.

Unfortunately, the two females leads that night were not in good voice and I’ve heard the music so many times, I knew when they missed. They also were in a rush–we got out of that show in two hours and ten minutes. It’s always been three hours before.

2. Marvel at the difference between prose and song

Wicked whiplashed me–something was a little odd, but what? The same gorgeous costumes, astonishing arias and clever story thrilled us but I kept shaking my head trying to figure out what was different.

During intermission we finally put it together. They were singing in American accents and speaking in British ones!

3. See something off-beat.

In our case it was The Thirty-Nine Steps, which I liked so much the first time, I took my daughter-in-law to see it two years later!

How can a play based on a book by John Buchanan and made into a film noire by Alfred Hitchcock be funny, much less have all the parts played by only four people?

How indeed? We laughed ourselves silly.

4. Take in a classic.

We never timed our trips properly to see a Shakespeare play, much less visit the Globe Theater, so we had to make do with another old standby: Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. Dated and played in a tiny theatre (we’re tall and could barely fit into our seats–our knees were a tangle to accomodate), it’s still a treat and they offered the cheapest tickets we could buy. (But they weren’t cheap)

5. Check out the cheap ticket booth, but don’t have high expectations for getting seats to something you really want to see.

I wanted to have one sure bet, so I bought those tickets in advance.  We used several different techniques when we sought tickets. We used the concierge at our hotel, bought tickets last minute at the theatre, and purchased them on-line before we left the states.

Other than Les Miserables (bought in advance), we were happy with everything we saw.

After all, the play’s the thing.

What experiences have you had at the theatre and have you got anything to share, particularly about London?

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1 Comment

  1. Love this! I’ve never been to the theater in London. In fact, I’ve only spent a couple days there, but I can say this for sure, if you only have a short time in London, you should go to the Tower of London. Lots to see, it’s practically a microcosm of England, and the ravens are a hoot. We also saw the London Eye, Harrod’s, the underground (thoroughly), the British Museum, and took in the London Orchestra at the Albert Hall. From box seats. That was something. :)

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