Sunday, July 12, 2015

London Day 5 - Hannah, Shopping, The National Galley, Miss Saigon

I apologize for not posting yesterday.  I found out who I got back to the apartment that a friend of mine died unexpectedly, and it just didn't seem right.  It still doesn't feel quite right to go back to blogging or vacationing merrily, but I'm going to carry on because I don't really know what else to do.

Saturday was my last full day in London (at least this time around).  I didn't have any tickets booked yet for that evening, so I began my day with a trip to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square.

I was deliberating between a couple of shows, none of which I felt passionately about.  Finally, I decided it was time to check the last big blockbuster of the 90's off my list and I got a ticket for Miss Saigon.

I walked up to Oxford Circus next to meet Hannah for lunch.  Hannah, you may recall, is my matched teacher from the ill-fated Fulbright exchange.  She took the train in from Bristol and we spent a few hours catching up.  She's actually had quite the year!  Since I last saw her, she's gotten engaged and pregnant and is getting married in Cuba in about a month.

Hannah and I parted ways conveniently next to Liberty of London, one of the places on my To Do list (it's the building in the center):

I'm a fan of their gorgeous fabrics, so after admiring their other wares and their ceiling decor:

I went up to the third floor to fondle some lawn.

Oh, they had gorgeous prints; but I just couldn't justify spending $75 on one yard of fabric, try as I (and the eager salesman) might.

I went a-wandering again and discovered that the London Palladium was nearby:

No sign of Mr. Memory, though.

I swung by the British Gallery to look at a few favorites, explore the medieval section, and to take a break to recharge and to finish my book in their cafe.  When they closed, I walked towards the theater hoping to find some dinner along the way.

I found a street food fair, 

but everything was either heavy on the meat or cupcakes and I was craving greens.  A few blocks later I spotted this promising sign:

It is England, so I wasn't quite sure if "Tossed" meant salads until I could see the bar on the door.  Hurrah!

Dinner accomplished, I walked to the Prince Edward Theater.  The interior of the theater was gorgeous - easily one of the best I've seen in New York or London.  I had scored a seat in the orchestra just off center (yay, discounts!), so I settled in to watch the last of the chandelier-barricade-helicopter trifecta.

Here are two things I've observed about West End theater so far:
1) They have huge casts.  Every show I saw had at least 20 and Miss Saigon had almost 40 people on stage.  That's absolutely enormous compared with most shows on Broadway lately.

2) They love their smoke machines.  Every scene was viewed dimly through the haze.  Sure, it's a nifty effect with good lighting, but my goodness can't I just see the set and people clearly?  It's as bad as Instagram filters.

Miss Saigon was... dated.  Huge, full of spectacle, enormous singing prowess; but I just don't like that show.  The characters don't change, yet they feel compelled spell their motivations out for us again and again and again.  And then again.  I hoped that they would have tightened it up for this revived version, but nope.  She loves him, he loves her, they're not together, that other guy wants to go to America, communism's bad, and everyone is miserable.

("I believe it's pronounced mizer-A-blay.")

It did bring back memories of high school.  Our choir did a medley of songs from the show, and I must have listened to the cast album several times because I knew and anticipated more of the songs than I expected.  Still, ultimately, if I'm going to watch a girl pine for a guy for three hours, I'd rather watch Madame Butterfly.

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