West End Live 2014

In which: potato salads are eaten, a mayonnaise disaster is narrowly averted, someone gets sunburn, people are grumpy, and trains are caught.

Finally, something musical! I feel proud of that pun. It was a good pun. I liked it more than I think I should.

Anyway. This weekend, for those who didn’t know, was West End Live in Trafalgar Square. Basically, a load of musicals did little taster performances so that you could decide whether or not you felt like forking out fifty quid to go and see the whole show. Well, most of them did. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory went all maverick and did a video. They even did a ‘sing-along’ thing, although nobody actually sang along. Very disappointing.

But let me start at the beginning. It started, as these things so often do, with cereal. Oddly salty cereal, actually, so I might avoid cookie crisp in the future. I don’t really like my breakfast cereal to taste of salt, and I don’t really understand why you would. Because we are Sensible People we decided to make a picnic, so once the debacle at breakfast was over it was time to prepare. And by prepare I mean throw everything together in teeny-tiny fajitas and hope that the lack of mayonnaise in one of them didn’t make the whole thing an inedible disaster. (It didn’t) I just about remembered to bring water (not enough, as it turns out. We all got dehydration headaches), and spray on the old sun-cream. I even remembered to reapply it later on, so I think I win super-duper brownie points. The only thing is, having now staved off the first sunburn of the year until June I feel like it’s going to be a truly awful uber-sunburn and I might even end up crying. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Because we had anticipated that the event would be popular we thought we’d get there an hour early. Beat the queue, we thought. How wrong we were. By the time we meandered out of Charing Cross station the queue was already halfway down the square. Of course, what we hadn’t realised was that at the north end of the square was a snaking around queue, and the square itself was already filling up. Pretty damn popular, basically. If I lived in London this would be a lot flipping easier. Especially because we wouldn’t have to do so much faffing with the trains afterwards, we could just get the underground and go home. C’est la vie.

Tl;dr: West End Live is popular (get it??? GET IT????)

As it turned out, most of the good shows were on before 1:30; we saw Wicked, Once, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Billy Elliott… well, saw may be a misnomer. Heard, more like. Everyone in front of us stood up to see and I really couldn’t be arsed with that kind of exercise. Especially exercise interspersed with the presenters urging us to drink water, wear sun-cream, and take selfies with the hashtag “west end live”. I’d rather not, actually.

The picnic made the whole thing more fun, and made us feel just a wee bit smug. Although the smell of eggs may have pissed off everyone around us, I think it was definitely worthwhile. Managed to down about a litre of water just sitting in the sun, not moving an inch. And that still wasn’t enough water. Good thing I saved some though, because I needed it on the train home after the mad dash through Marylebone station and along the platform. Bloody Marylebone. Bloody train.

And of course, the day wouldn’t be complete without a trip to see Wicked. (again) And I literally couldn’t say how amazing it was. Seriously amazing. Willemijn Verkaik is just my favourite Elphaba in the entire universe (sorry Idina, you’ve been replaced. Not that you care, I suppose). AND SHE DID LET IT GO OMG. Not in the English version of Frozen, obviously, calm the flip down I know Idina Menzel did that one. And what’s a trip to the theatre without leaving during the bows? I know, socially unacceptable, but we had a train to catch dammit and I wanted to get home to have pizza.

On the flip side, booking the tickets at Trafalgar Square meant we netted ourselves a few goodies – sweets, a few pamphlets, a couple of card holders, and three promotional CDs for some musicals. I’ve put them on my wall.

Aren't they lovely

Aren’t they lovely



Wicked by name, rather good by nature

See that? That’s a pune, or a play on words.

Anyway. Last month on the 16th of April, Lewis dragged me into London to go and see the Book of Mormon. They were doing a raffle for about half a dozen tickets for £20. The rest of them were something more like £75, so naturally we weren’t too keen on paying full price.

The day started well; I managed to get the train from Marlow with no problems, and even though the train I wanted was delayed for reasons I didn’t panic! no sir, I did not. In fact, it wasn’t until I arrived at Oxford Circus that things started Going Wrong. Lewis had, for reasons best known to himself, left the station and hidden himself around the corner. We spent 5 or so minutes trying to work out where he was in relation to me, before eventually to his great surprise I stumbled upon him.

Of course, then it turned out we had about an hour before we had to be at the raffle. So, naturally, we went to Hamleys.

The problem with going to Hamleys when one of you is about a billion feet tall is that most of the other people there are about 3′ tall. Thankfully, nobody was seriously hurt, but there were a lot of near misses. Despite the danger we managed to kill 45 minutes examining high-priced lego and unexpected film memorabilia. Who’d have thought that replica One Rings would’ve been so popular? Although it’s a bit jarring to see them sitting merrily next to replica Firebolts, but I’m sure the people who sort out the layouts know what they’re doing.

20140426_160758 20140426_16075320140426_160822

Once we’d fled the building, we made our slow way along Regent Street (pedestrians these days. No drive) towardsthe theatre, pausing briefly along the way to make ourselves very hungry in some whole food’s market.

We entered the raffle, hearts filled with hope, and hands filled with air. Would we win? Would we not win? Statistically speaking the odds were very much against us, but I believe.

Anyway, Chinatown beckoned, and we learnt a few things:

  1. Eating in front of a mirror is weird
  2. Eating next to random strangers is even weirder
  3. People who balance footballs on their heads rarely do anything exciting
  4. Lewis doesn’t like flapjack

On our return to the theatre we learnt that we had, in fact, not won the raffle. But, never fear, we found something else instead!

Us looking sad because we did not win the raffle

Us looking sad because we did not win the raffle


Look what it is, saving the day

We both agreed that Wicked was a much better choice than the Book of Mormon, hands down. Anyway, without too much difficulty we managed to find the Apollo Victoria theatre (it’s right opposite the station. If you’re not us, it’s probably the first thing you see. If you are us, you’ll need to turn left, turn around, and then you’ll spot it)

Apart from the really weird theatre layout (toilets right next to the stage? ok…) and the slightly irritating seat layout (a wall in front of the seats that’s impossible to see over? Good job) the musical was so amazing I don’t even have the words to describe it. So I won’t. I’ll simply leave you with the news that it took me about 45 minutes longer to get home because the damn underground line I needed was closed. well played, London Underground. well played.