Posts Tagged ‘I heart the Whingers’

Valentine’s day is … for getting yourself something and telling your partner it’s a gift from them to you

February 15, 2008

So I was at the fancy whiskey shop on the Golden Mile Wednesday afternoon, shopping. My options were a 20 quid bottle of five year old hootch and, er, a more expensive bottle of the same thing, but from 1985. I just couldn’t stomach being so cheap as to get the bottle of new stuff – “Happy Valentines day! Hope this isn’t nearly as disappointing as I expect it’s going to be” – so I bought the other one. The man behind the counter was, well, I have to admit, seemingly SHOCKED that I’d gone for the other bottle, but he and his companion were just wreathed in smiles when I told them it was a Valentine’s gift from my husband. “Don’t worry, ” I said, “I’ll be buying some ballet tickets next and telling him they’re his gift to me.”

Anyway, as it works out, fifty pound tickets to Chroma weren’t quite in the range I was looking for, but Thursday did end with hot little tickets to The Homecoming at the Almeida and Dealer’s Choice (highly recommended by the the West End Whingers) in my hands – ostensibly as Valentine’s gifts, bought by me. (No luck with the tickets to Hairspray – which I must see before Michael Ball quits the cast.) I’m not sure what’s up with The Homecoming, but for the entire run a single pair of seats was NOT to be found. However, I have the magic touch and called just after someone had surrendered a pair, so we’re off to see it next week. Dealer’s Choice, well, that’s much easier to get into. What’s killing me is the tickets for Chroma. I saw four seats together show up at one point on the Royal Opera House website yesterday, but – 55 quid each! It really was the best thing I saw all of last year, but I’m just going to have to keep hoping that something shows up in the amphitheather – something with an unobstructed view, thank you very much, as I will see you in hell before I sit in the side slips again.

Chita Rivera at the Shaw Theater (London) – Ars Longa, Chita Brevis

February 10, 2008

Well, going to see Chita Rivera with the West End Whingers last night was really quite fun. I had a nice buzz going from all of the wine I had before the show and, as she talked about the passage of the years, I could practically feel them blowing by me. Unfortunately I don’t really have a grasp on the early part of her career (as I didn’t make it through West Side Story – the copy we rented was so horrible we gave up after about half an hour) so I didn’t really get the buzz from hearing her talk about and sing the songs of those, er, decades (hard to believe that someone like her would do a touring Sweet Charity back in the day – did they actually once have quality actors do tours instead of hacks?).

But she sang SO many songs from shows I’d never heard of (The Rink? Phil called it the one with the rollerskating dogs, but it was just a dog with rollerskates from the description she gave) that I felt like she represented the tip of a huge iceberg of music I’d only ever experienced a fraction of. So much more wonderful music out there for me to learn! And watching her dance, I though, how strange it was to see this – she represented a physical memory that just couldn’t be recreated other than in her body. So much of the stuff she’s done and been in is just gone, and yet, as she started singing, “Big Spender,” I felt she could hear the words and the movement as a whole within her – a piano ker-slap (thump PIVOT), “I could tell …” (thrust ripple) “at the time …” – and so MANY of these things were buried in her, she was a veritable altar of musical theater and should be being carefully mined for all of her knowledge n an expedited basis.

Oh, but to see her sing, “Nowadays …” just an echo of the old days with Gwen Verdon, but so lovely … all of those years rising up in front of us, and all is heaven and I had to fight not to sing along. Aaaah. And then there was more wine and catty comments exchanged between old friends and talking about the rise and fall of musical theater (in England and the US) and how the dogs got rollerskates. Truly a great night out! (And hopefully soon I’ll review Friday’s outing to the Carlo Rossa Company’s Mikado, but with a six day work week, I’m a bit short on free time.)

(This review is for a show that took place Saturday, February 9th, 2008.)

David Mamet’s Speed the Plow at the Old Vic

February 5, 2008

Tonight we joined the West End Whingers and krewe at the Old Vic and saw David Mamet’s Speed the Plow, which is apparently still in previews. We had seats that were amazingly close to the stage – only four rows back! – but this was a bit irritating as the first several rows slope DOWN from the stage instead of up.

Given that I still haven’t reviewed Othello at the Donmar (but what’s the point, really, it’s sold out for months), I probably shouldn’t be writing this show up, but I don’t want to just let it slip.

In short:
1. I thought I saw Lyle Lovett in the bar.
2. I thought I saw the guy who was in The Big Chill on the stage, and apparently I was right. He is much sexier as a grownup than he was when he was young. It seems like he was in some other movies, too, but I liked him better on stage than in any of them. I am very bad with celebrities and it would be sad if I cared – I mean, I should really pay attention to who’s in the plays I’m going to see, but it’s really hard to give a rip about some Hollywood actor – but what matters is that he was fun to watch on stage and gave a mostly decent performance. (I disliked that he sounded so much like the other character, but I think that might be the fault of the author and not the performer.)
3. Mamet can’t write female characters.
4. There was no plow.
5. I got dizzy sitting so close to the stage and having a giant head blocking my view of the middle of it for most of the first scene – somehow combined with the unrelenting, rapid-fire dialogue I felt like I was getting motion sickness. The wine I had beforehand might have played a part in it but I blame the Old Vic and Mamet instead.
6. I know Laura Michelle Kelly was supposed to be reading out of a really crappy book in the second scene, but instead it seemed like she was reading a script with a really crappy extended monologue and just not getting how to say it. Perhaps she will improve as time goes on and the cast settles in a bit more.
7. There was some really funny one-liners in there, but I can’t remember any of them now as they were blocked by the monotony of the tone of the first scene and the wretchedness of the book in the second.
8. I really want to see Dirty Little Showtunes and Nick Garrison again, apropos of nothing.
9. On the way back, we met some people who said of the show, “Outstanding acting! Great writing! A total standing ovation!” J thought they must not get out much, and I thought they must have been either Kevin Spacey or Jeff Goldblum fans, or both. At any rate, NOT a total standing O at all, but it may get a little better over time. It wasn’t a bad night out on the whole.
10. It’s sad to be as excited as I was when I discovered that there was to be no intermission and the whole thing was going to be over at 9 PM, but that’s the joy of the unshakeable cold (and the husband with a broken foot) for you.