Sunday, 21 August 2011

London Baby - Day Two Part Two - The Wickedest Sound

After our unscheduled stop at the Museum of London, we realised we were running out of time to get back to the hotel, get all dolled up and get our asses back to Victoria on time for our big night out.

Typically we just missed a train at one of our connections and, as happens after you've been in London for more than a day, you start to feel irked that you have to wait, like, four whole minutes for the next one, whereas if you were back here in Belfast waiting on a bus that would be delightful news indeed. Luckily when I find myself thinking like that I catch myself on, whereas the group of local fellas who were next to us were genuinely incensed that they'd missed it! Calm down boys, there'll be another one along shortly!

Of course there was and before we knew it we were back at the hotel, freshly showered, suited, booted and back down to the Underground on our way to Victoria. Unfortunately there was another little unscheduled delay and by the time we emerged from the tube station in Victoria and picked up our tickets at the box office we only had around forty-five minutes to spare. Should we, (a) rush to the first restaurant in sight, order dinner and risk not being done on time, or (b) go grab snacks at the Sainsbury’s Local across the road then head to the pub for a drink instead?

We went for option (b) and surreptitiously enjoyed our pre-packaged sandwiches in a doorway alcove of a pub whilst sipping another pint of London Pride. Bliss. The only thing that could improve the evening was a spot of musical theatre… and as luck would have it, we had tickets to go and see Wicked!

I've always been a bit of a fan of musicals, ever since I first heard I Know Him So Well on one of my mum's CDs (or possibly cassette tapes… it was quite a while ago!). I was always in choirs and orchestras and stuff throughout school, so I picked up a few more well-known musical numbers through that, and then in 2001 I got to be in the chorus for Les Misèrables when it came to the Odyssey in Belfast, which was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. Since then I've been even more interested in musical theatre and the Yorkshireman and I have been lucky enough to see a few different shows in London and New York. And then, of course, there's Glee, now bringing songs from the musicals to the masses, including a version of Wicked's Defying Gravity that I just love.

When we went to New York in November, number one on my musicals bucket list had indeed been Wicked (not just because of Glee, honest!) but the show was so popular (little in-joke there for anyone who's seen it) that there were no discounted tickets available and I just couldn't justify spending over $100 each to go see it. In the end we got to see two shows for that price and they were both brilliant, but I was still a bit disappointed not to have seen Wicked. And so when we were planning our little spur-of-the-moment London trip and the Yorkshireman enquired about which show we could go and see, it immediately sprung to mind.

So I checked ticket prices and they were again a bit on the steep side, but there were a few lower priced tickets in the restricted view areas and I figured, hey, why not - how bad could it be? But when we went to book through the official site, it kept saying there were no tickets available! Oh no! However somehow or another we stumbled across and, bizarrely, they did have tickets… and for only £22.50 each! All very strange but we weren't arguing and with constant chanting from me ("Just click ok! Add to basket! Hurry up and checkout already!") the Yorkshireman had them booked within a few minutes. Woohoo!

And so as Friday evening descended on Victoria, the Yorkshireman and I made our way up into the upper circle. It was, admittedly, quite high up and we did both invest £1 in hiring some of those little binoculars on the back of the seat in front, but it in no way diminished the show for us. In fact for some of the effects I think you might even be better off way up in the back so you can take it all in.

The show itself was truly spectacular. The cast were brilliant and there were some great numbers, both vocally and choreographically. I'd always been a fan of Rachel Tucker when I was following I’d Do Anything (well, she is a local girl after all!) so I was really pleased to see her playing the lead of Elphaba. I wasn't really familiar with Louise Dearman, who played Glinda, but it turns out she's the lady who sings the kick-ass vocals on the Somebody To Love ad and she was both amazing and also very funny.

I'd only really heard three of the songs from Wicked before (Popular, Defying Gravity and For Good) and those did actually end up being my favourites anyway (I guess they're the most famous for a reason) but even when the song being performed was one I would consider a "filler" (i.e. the ones that set the scene, move the story along, etc), there was so much happening on the stage that the show still held my captive attention from start to finish. I think that, even though I’ve seen plenty of musicals where I liked the music a bit more, Wicked was up there amongst my favourites overall.

So, after an Ozsome night (hehe) at the theatre and a well-deserved standing ovation, we were on our way back out into the rainy London streets, dashing back into the Underground once again. Given our timing issue earlier in the evening, we had decided to head back to Fulham and hopefully find a restaurant still open and serving dinner at 10pm somewhere near the station. Unfortunately we were a little too eager and in our haste to get back we only realised too late that whilst we were on a District Line train, it was not Wimbledon-bound as it needed to be. Oops. We decided to alight at Earls Court and walk back to the hotel from there, hoping to pass some kind of open restaurant on the way (Plan C?).

Alas that was not to be either. After a quick pit-stop back at the hotel we headed out in search of takeaway (Plan D). Unfortunately the options immediately around our hotel were not looking good at what was now 11pm. The fish and chip shop was closed and, oddly, so apparently was the pizza shop I walked straight into through an open door. Interesting definition of “closed” if you ask me. We wandered a little further around Fulham in search of sustenance, which we eventually found in the form of a sub from Subway for the Yorkshireman and subs from Dominos from me. We had a floor picnic back in our hotel room whilst watching the so-bad-it’s-almost-good Marriage Ref on TV.

And then, after a long, busy and awesome day, it was time for bed in preparation for yet another long day full of adventure on Saturday.

To be continued...

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