Arts and Entertainment, London
One of my great pleasure while visiting London was the London theatre scene. London is rivaled by only New York City for the greatest theatre in the world.
Fondest memory: While I London I went to see two plays. The first was "Lettice and Lovage" by Peter Shaffer. I thought very highly of this play and I eagerly wanted to give another play a try as soon as I could. For different taste of the theatre I thought I would give a musical a try. The only musical that I could get tickets for was a musical version of the classic Fritz Lang film "Metropolis". I considered this only a rather fustrating experience. It had a great set and production but the music was tedious and the story did not really translate well into this format. Afterwards I thought, "I passed up Anthony Hopkins in 'M. Butterfly' for this?" So I did learn that theatre in London is sort of hit or miss. I got a taste of both.
In 2010 I returned to London and saw "Wicked" at the Apollo Victoria. It was advertised as "the Musical of the Century!" Oddly enough so was "Billy Elliot" and all the other musical then playing in the London theatre. Personally I found "Wicked" to reasonably good but I much perferred the novel it was based on.
London's newest meeting place is a great piece of art by sculptor Paul Day (1967).
It's a sculpture of a couple saying farewell and is located at the first level of the St. Pancras Train Station, the arrival point of the Eurostar trains.
Paul was impressed when he first entered the out-of-service Barlow Shed (the popular name for the station building). He needed 24 hours to come up with three ideas for a piece of art, one being the embracing couple under a clock at a railway station. LCR (London & Continental Railways) agreed that the simple silhouette of the couple would be the proper thing to go for.
Together with his wife, Paul made a number of studies and the final selection was turned into a clay model. Thereafter Paul needed a good half year to complete the transformation to the bronze statue. The final works took place in October 2007.
The station was reopened at November 6, 2007 by HM The Queen. Train service started at November 14.
having visited most of the tourist places, my eyes are now attracted by less well-known features of London. I now spend time looking at statues, decorations on buildings or even art displayed in the open
London is expensive , but there is a lot to see and do without spending money at all. On a Sunday a visit to the South Bank and a browse through the second hand books may be profitable. I found some reasonably priced old books that way. Visit charity shops and pick up books for very little, or small ornaments .
Just walking around, looking down side streets can be a pleasant experience.
Fondest memory: I enjoy coming upon the unexpected- a small mews of the Cromwell Road, a garden with flowers in Spring. How can I choose?
But probably what gives me most pleasure these days is finding places where my ancestors lived, walking where they had walked. An especially exciting day was ,when in the British Library, finding letters written by my Italian Great great grandfather , the ink as clear as if written yesterday, and seeing his signature.
St. Martin's Theatre on West Street, in the West End, is a major attraction with its own entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. Since 1974, it has been the home of "The Mousetrap," the longest running play in history - as the sign says, now its 57th year! It's now as much a part of the London scene as the ravens at the Tower, or Eros in Piccadilly Circus.
The Theatre is owned by the Willoughby de Broke family, and was opened in 1916. It was designed by the architect W.G.R. Sprague. Sprague also built the nearby "New Ambassadors Theatre", which is where "The Mousetrap" debuted in 1952.
Originally opened as the "Royal Coburg Theatre" in 1818, the Old Vic is a genuine theatrical landmark - and still an important venue for high quality drama in England. Edmund Kean, Lilian Baylis, and John Gielgud are just three of the legends who have been associated with this theatre. Now Kevein Spacey is artistic director of the theatre, and fine actors from both sides of the Atlantic may be seen on its famous stage. I had the good fortune of catching a production here put on by the "Bridge Project", a venture whose guru is film director Mr. Kate Winslet (aka Sam Mendes). I saw Shakespeare's "Winter Tale" with Ethan Hawke, Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack and Victoria Hall - I thought it was excellent.
The location of the Old Vic is a little peculiar - an area south of Waterloo Station where a lot of people pass through in a hurry. Post-theatre options for dining or drinking are limited. The Old Vic seats 1067 patrons; it's a nice theatre and it should be mentioned that its seats are somewhat more spacious and comfortable than those at some well-known West End Theatres.
Fondest memory: The Old Vic is located at the intersection of "The Cut" and Waterloo Road. It's about a five minute walk from Waterloo Station - if you know where you're going!
Historic 18th Century theatre that has played a central role in London's dramatic life for more than 200 years. It is the 3rd oldest London theatre still in use. (It's the "Royal Haymarket" because of a special permit it received from the crown in 1766 to present "straight" non-musical dramas.)
The first Haymarket Theatre dates back to the 1720s. The current building was originally a little further up the street - it was moved (carefully) down the street in 1821, and redesigned by George IV's favorite architect John Nash. It is now a Grade I Listed building - which means that it is very very very important! Seating capacity is 888 - and some of the seats are pretty tight. If you are tall, try for an aisle!
I've seen several shows - and great actors at the Royal Haymarket over the years. Most recently, in the summer 2009 I had the pleasure of watching Sir Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart in "Waiting for Godot" here.
Fondest memory: On the Haymarket, just down from Piccadilly Circus
The Palace Theatre was built in the 1880s by Sir Richard d'Oyly Carte, the impressario who was also the patron of the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. He meant it to be a home for English Grand Opera, the counterpart of his existing Savoy Theatre on the Strand, which was the home of English Light Opera. Hence its unusally large size for its time - 1400 - and certainly more ornament and glitter was to be found here than in most other theatres of its time.
I saw "Les Miserables" here in 1997 with my friend Stuart, shown here posing in front of the theatre. Incidentally, "Les Mis" had a run of 19 years at The Palce, from 1985 to 2004! That's a lot of manning the barracades and chasing after Jean Valjean.
Fondest memory: The Palace Theatre dominates Cambridge Circus, where Charing Cross Road meets Shaftesbury Ave.
Favorite thing: The statue of poet Sir John Betjeman, made by sculptor Martin Jennings, is located next to the Eurostar platforms of the St Pancras Station. It's a homage of the LCR (London and Continental Railways) to the man who was the driving force behind efforts to save the station when it was threatened by development plans during the 1960's.
Is there a day that goes by in London when something surreal and sublime doesn't happen? Whether it's on a small personal scale or on a HUGE public scale like The Sultan's Elephant, a four day, street theatre event organised by The Arts Council for England and The Mayor of London.
The Sultans Elephant is a 40 foot high, 42 tonne automaton and his companion is The Giant Girl.
Fondest memory: I think I probably have said this before, but it still holds true. Amongst the mundane, humdrum, and sometimes downright tiresome, it's always possible to find something in this city that is magical and mysterious... this massive puppet was unexpected and just beautiful!
We found the Elephant in Trafalgar Square, the roads in the area had been closed off for his procession on Saturday and he was having a rest outside the National Gallery. There were thousands of people waiting there for his arrival and taking photos, and a BIG WELL DONE to those guys in orange who do a great job of crowd control! Thanks :)
Please check the website for more info about the story of The Sultans Elephant
I can't really give a fondest memory, every time I go there, I just love it!! Every time is different and special in it's own unique way.
I suppose the first time I went to London, as a teenager, would have to be one of the fondest memories. I was 17 and I was in love with my very first boyfriend Andy. We went to the West end, but he didn't really know his way around, so we ended up deciding to go to the cinema for the afternoon. He wanted to see a blue/porn film (at that age I hadn't even seen one), I wanted to see the big film at the time, 'Close encounters of the third kind'. So we saw what I wanted, at The Odeon Theatre, Leicester square. Whilst in there, he wanted to have a snog (kiss), I wanted to watch the film! If I go to the cinema, I want to see the movie, there's plenty of time for the other things afterwards! hehehe ;)
I guess I should have put this under warnings and dangers really? hahaha.
This was at Covent Garden in the summer of 2001. The guy was all wrapped in clingfilm!... it's weird what some people will do for laughs eh. But we did have fun there. Me and my husband, Chris, were asked to join in, no, not to be wrapped up in clingfilm. We were part of the pretend 'backstage' crew.
There has actually been Street Performers at Covent Garden Market since very early times, and no-one really knows when they first began? But Samuel Pepys recorded seeing Punch & Judy at the Market as early as 1662. Wow,so that's been going even longer than 'Mousetrap'!
Hey, I wonder if this bloke has ever seen the great Australian film 'Bad boy Bubby'? hahaha
The Baron's Court Theatre
I took the advice of a friend and decided to see a play at the Baron's Court Theatre. I have never been to a pub theatre before. It is actually very small and intimate, situated in the cellar, and the play draws your attention even more than usual plays because actors are so close to the audience.
After the play (it was called "The Greatest Love Songs"), you can go upstairs, have a pint of nice beer and even talk to the actors as they come upstairs for a pint too. :-)
A very nice experience indeed! And it was not as expensive as "big" shows, it cost 12 GBP.
The Curtain's Up
28a Comeragh Rd
Directions: Piccadilly/District Line to Barons Court Station then 2 minutes walk down Barons Court Road
What's on the stage
Official London theatre
Online tickets for various events
Online tickets again
My favourite thing about London?? ..finding stuff like this.. This is the work of the Bristol Street Artist Banksy I know graffitti is vandalism... but his work can be seen all over the city in the most unlikely places and I just liked this one! Click the link to see more of his work.
Yesterday (5/3/05) this one was no longer there... washed away by the rain... or the council.
During my wanderings in London and Greater London, I have happened upon an artist a few times.
The photo shows an artist with his easel at Putney Bridge, when I was waiting for a bus. It is not a great photo as I didnt want to make it too obvious I was photographing him!
He was painting the River Thames and there were two barges on the shore too. It was an impressionistic-style painting which I thought was rather good!
Other places I have come across artists have been at The Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park, and once at St James Park, near Buckingham Palace.
Even amidst the harried life of a huge city like this, it is satisfying to know that others find piece within the hustle and bustle and take out their canvas and paintbrush and get creative!
I should take a leaf out of their book...