Thursday, 23 June 2011

Welcome to Avenue Q

So last night I had an absolute blast. You may recall that last November the Yorkshireman and I went to see Avenue Q on our last day in New York and loved loved loved it. I mentioned in the post I just linked to that Avenue Q was doing a UK tour but that, at the time, there were no Belfast dates, which was a shame. However a few months back very exciting news reached me that they had indeed added my own dear city to their tour… they were a-comin' to the Grand Opera House! Practically imploding with the thrill of it all, the Yorkshireman quickly gauged the interest of our merry band of amigos and got booking the tickets. They had been sitting on our fireplace, teasing us, ever since… until last night when the day had finally arrived to go see it!

We had decided to go for a nice pre-theatre dinner and there are certainly plenty of restaurants in that area we were keen to try, e.g. Rhubarb, Made in Belfast and La Boca. However we were bringing my not-so-baby brother along and he is notoriously picky with food. I foresaw limited menu choices that were sufficiently plain enough for him and tales of woe should anything come covered in jus or incorporate unacceptable vegetables. So in the end we switched our plans and headed to Wetherspoons on Bedford Street instead.

Wetherspoons gets a bit of a bad rap sometimes I think. Okay so their cheap food and drink might attract some less-than-classy punters, especially late at night on the weekends, but as an afternoon/early evening spot to have a few wee drinkies and a good value meal, it's hard to beat. My friends and I have fond memories of it especially, as it was one of our student hangouts. It's about a 5-10 minute walk from Queens (depending on how many of us needed to withdraw some vital student loan funds from an ATM en route), so it was perfect for those days when you had a lecture in the morning and then a gap until a lecture in the afternoon. What better way to sustain oneself than a big lunch and a big whack of chocolate fudge cake all for about £7? Those were the days when we were feeling a bit richer though, otherwise it was off to Spuds for lunch and buying a packet of hobnobs in the Spar next door on the way back. Ah memories...

But yes, so last night we revisited our youth and spent a pleasant couple of hours enjoying good company alongside copious amounts of food and bargainous alcohol (bottle of wine for £6.90 - how can you resist?) upstairs in Wetherspoons before walking (or in my case hobbling in high heels) round to the Grand Opera House for our evening's entertainment. Incidentally, for those who might not have been able to sleep through worrying about the issue, not-so-baby brother was ultimately very happy with his sausage, beans and chips and a side order of cheesy garlic bread. At only £25 for three huge meals, the garlic bread and a bottle of wine all in, the Yorkshireman and I were very happy too!

Upon arrival at the Grand Opera House I heard an interesting little announcement, namely that alcohol would be permitted in the theatre for that night's performance. That's a very bad thing to tell people who have already had a bottle of wine that evening and are still harbouring fond memories of drinking monster-themed cocktails the last time they went to see that show. It was kind of cool to be able to enjoy a drink in your seat for a change though. Normally I don't even bother with the bar at the theatre because by the time it gets to the interval you'd nearly be crushed in the stampede to get there and even if you do make it to the front line alive it's like a billion quid for a tiny glass of something mediocre. However last night I was still giddy with the cheapness of dinner (well, and the rosé wine…) so I figured I would indulge for a change.

The show itself was Awe. Some. For those unfamiliar, here's a quick taster - it's the opening number as performed on the Children In Need show in 2006:

We'd had a few concerns going in about the differences between the UK version and the original Broadway version, for example the Gary Coleman character being played by a man here instead of a woman like in the US and what they would say instead of "George Bush" in the song Only For Now (I won't spoil that one for you in case you plan to go see it yourself!). We needn't have worried though. Okay so there are some unnecessary differences, for example when they changed the references to Polish people to French people in Everyone's A Little Bit Racist (why?) but all in all I enjoyed the show as much last night as I did in New York.

Actually I enjoyed it even more because this time I could sing along to all the songs (we bought the soundtrack as soon as we got home from New York) and also because it was great to see everyone else's reactions to it (a couple of our merry band knew the songs and had seen a few YouTube clips but none of them had ever actually seen the show). I think everyone really enjoyed it and it's good because now they'll get my random references instead of just thinking I've gone off the deep end (again…).

It was a thoroughly top night, which ended with a 25 minute wait for a bus (spent comfortably sipping yet more drinks outside Apartment) and then an hour spent tucked up in bed with a pint of milky decaff coffee, the Yorkshireman and his laptop, watching The Apprentice on iPlayer. Well, you have to get your priorities straight: Being able to gossip about The Apprentice at work the next day > Sleep

So yes: Avenue Q is still at the Grand Opera House until this Saturday 25 June, so if you're at a bit of a loose end and you have the cash, I would highly recommend going to see it. Oh, unless you're easily offended, in which case Coronation Street may be a more appropriate thoroughfare for you. But otherwise, enjoy!


  1. Oh I used to love going to the Opera House when I was wee. My mum & I always used to go to The Skandia rest before lol..! The show sounds fab, glad u had good nite :) x

  2. Glad you got to enjoy the show, again. And from a unique perspective of seeing it from both sides of the pond. I also noticed the French/Polish amendment and thought it unnecessary. If anything, considering we have a Polish community in Northern Ireland, keeping the original verse would have been more appropriate. Yet I suspect this was an England adaptation, as it would be funnier in the London shows to poke fun at the French. Anyway, long live Avenue Q!

  3. Oh, the Skandia! I used to love going there for birthday dinners as a kid. If I recall they had some kind of vanilla and chocolate sundae called a "black and white minstrel", presumably before such things were considered to be too un-PC. I think it even had sparklers in it. Memories... :-)

    And Mr Ulster, I agree entirely! Although I imagine if they went to the North of England they'd get bigger laughs poking fun at Londoners, so everything is relative ;-)