A Litany On London Largesse

Since coming back from holidays just over five weeks ago, I have been struck by how many great things there are to do in London, particularly when it comes to activities of the stage variety. And I have to admit that I’ve been a little lax in sharing this largesse with my lovely Gidday-ers so I thought I’d make this post a litany of my recent cultural adventures.

I’d been back not much more than a week when I popped down to Sadlers Wells to see Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty. Regular readers might remember my first Matthew Bourne experience last year and I was really looking forward to his take on this traditional tale.

And I was not disappointed. A combination of modern irreverance and gothic spirit cast their magic over the story and I found myself enchanted by Bourne’s mastery all over again. There were moments of laughter and darkness and beauty throughout and I left the auditorium wondering whether I’d get an opportunity to see the balance of Bourne’s Tchaikovsky triumvirate – Swan Lake and The Nutcracker – anytime soon. Sleeping Beauty has left Sadler’s Wells and is touring so you may have the chance to see it somewhere near you.

Sunday before last I went to see Argentinian company Tango Fire’s show, Flames of Desire. This had been inspired by a half price ticket deal in The Metro on my morning commute earlier the same week. 

For two hours the auditorium thrummed with passionate pas de deux, fleet feet and erotic attitude as the five couples, musicians and a rather smooth crooner brought the milonga (late night dance hall of Buenos Aires) to life. It was heart-stoppingly, breath-takingly brilliant. And when the cast – musicians, singer and dancers – took their curtain calls at the end, their absolute delight in the thunderous applause from the audience was as wonderful to see as the performance they had just given us.

And most recently, it was dinner and a show last Friday night with a friend. Again a deal dropped into my lap a couple of weeks ago and after a fabulous feed at Italian restaurant  Polpo near Carnaby Street, we took our seats for the greatest of musicals, A Chorus Line.

While I’d seen the 1985 movie starring Michael Douglas, I’d never seen the show. I am thrilled to report that this oversight has been corrected.

Because thrilled I was.

Every foot-tapping, fractious moment held me in thrall. The individual stories laid bare on the stage before the darkened auditorium: the pert, the cynical, the world-weary and the hopeful. The rediscovery of tunes I knew but had buried themselves in my memory. The cleverness of the choreography, entwining itself around the differences in shape, size, style and attitude of each dancer to create a whole truly greater than the sum of its parts.

And the culmination of all of this in the finale, ‘One’. One moment in the presence of an amazing cast and the most quintessential show tune of all time – a ‘singular sensation’ of glamour and celebration and synergy. Which took A Chorus Line to my all-time top 3, sharing my trinity of musical favourites with Les Miserables and Chicago.

Such is London’s largesse that I’ve managed to see all of these in the space of a month. Life may not always arrange itself so supportively – and cost-effectively – around my cultural interests, but let me assure you that I intend to grab every ‘moment’.

Strictly Heartstopping…

Every so often I experience something that affects me so deeply, I just cannot get it out of my mind.

Settling in last night with a bit of Ben & Jerry’s, I was all ready to be entertained and uplifted (to a degree) by my regular Saturday night double dose of guilty pleasure, Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor.

But not like this.

After nine amazing performances on last night’s Strictly, this happened:

I was mesmerised. Absolutely spellbound. For the whole 90 seconds, I think I actually stopped breathing.

I kept seeing it over and over in my head all night, despite the brilliant performances on the X Factor Final (part one) that followed.

It was the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning. And just to double-check I wasn’t imagining it all, I watched it again before posting – twice.

My heart still skipped a beat.

Exciting. Aggressive. Passionate. Uncompromising.

I have nothing further to say on the matter.

ps…oh wait, hang on. I need to let you know that there are only 14 sleeps before Christmas is upon us. That’s only 14 shopping days left so chop chop peeps. You don’t want to be late!

12 Festive Sleeps to Go…Winning Performances

Well it’s that time of year when  two of my favourite shows start drawing to their inexorable close – Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor.

X Factor will finish tonight in a blaze of stage effects, judge’s tears and testosterone now that it is down to Olly and Joe and for my part, I would love Olly to win.  Entertaining, cheeky and gutsy…although it will be a fight to the end and in two hours time, the artist with the ‘Christmas Number One‘ for 2009 will be announced…

But more than that, I loved this weekend’s Strictly.  All of those amazing, amazing performances and the most wicked Argentine Tango from Ricky and Natalie…I just so want them to win.  So nothing pleased me more than to see them go through to next week’s final. 

So there it is – my votes for the winning performances.  Saturday nights will just not be the same without them…