Alex in Theatreland: Part 1.

Right. Well. Lads. How are we. Me again. I feel like this is the only way that I know how to write an opening line as I am the tiniest bit socially awkward and often open all conversations like this complete with a quick greeting and an introduction so it seems only right that I keep to true form and hold on to that little peg of awkwardness.*

SO. ANYWAY. Something that I’ve mentioned a bit (a lot) but have never really delved into any further other than the fact that I should more than likely be receiving sponsorship from TodayTix any day now, is theatre in London, sooooo I’ve decided to do a monthly theatreland breakdown discussing what I’ve seen/hope to see/can’t afford to see so will instead spend my evenings watching dodgy bootlegs on YouTube.**

I do wholeheartedly realise that this is the point in time where the majority of my friends will be like “nah sis I’m out” and click out of this link as they maintain their ideals to resist all things stagey but I do thank you for taking the time to click on this in the first place and for bringing my viewer count up and will take you all to Coachella 2020 once my sponsorship deal comes through x

Firstly, before this week’s theatre trips I honestly could not remember when the last time I had been to the theatre was but after checking my Instagram story archive (both a blessing and a curse because I genuinely do not need to have visual reminders of how much I rant on) I realised that it was in fact “Emilia” at the Vaudeville Theatre which is a show that EVERYONE NEEDS TO BUY THE PLAYTEXT OF because good grief, what a show.

But anyway, I digress, I went from not seeing anything for six weeks, to seeing four shows in the space of five days. I’ve definitely mentioned it before, but the freedom of being able to grab a cheap ticket last minute and just run to a show after work is hands down my favourite thing about living here. When I was still living at home in Cork, theatre trips had to be booked well in advance and would have to be coincided with a Ryanair flash sale so this spontaneity is revolutionary for me and you should now brace yourselves for theatre spam.

God help ye.

This month in Theatreland:

Sweat

The first show that broke my theatre dry spell and launched me riiiight back into the world of drama was “Sweat” by Lynn Nottage which is currently playing at the Gielgud Theatre. Honestly, I knew very little about the show before buying tickets but I spend most of my time going to musicals and try to squeeze in the odd play every now and then so seeing as I am a huge fan of Martha Plimpton who stars in it and had also just seen Clare Perkins in “Emilia” I hopped on that TodayTix and got those rush seats.

As I’ve said, I basically knew nothing about the piece going into it, like I hadn’t even read a review, but it was an incredibly interesting piece of theatre as it was possibly as simple and straight as a play could be, but still held the ability to get a heartbreakingly solid message across. The story essentially focuses on working class Americans in small town Pennsylvania, and exudes themes of class, gender and race, which then accompanied by the events that are carried out throughout the play set up a situation which highlights the various catalysts that caused so many people to be swayed by Trump’s presidential campaign tactics. The New Yorker has expressed that this was “the first theatrical landmark of the Trump era” with the characters exhibited holding an association to Trump’s election campaign phrase of “the forgotten people”. The piece itself is worth seeing for Martha Plimpton’s performance alone but also to be in a theatrical setting where the exposition of variously tragic elements have set up the states in which certain areas of America are in today.

Wicked

After a hard-hitting and emotionally draining drama, the following night I skipped on down that yellow brick road to my stagey roots and was absolutely BUZZING to have been given a free ticket to see “Wicked” at the Apollo Victoria.

Now. Lads. “Wicked” is a staple in the lives of all musical theatre kids. We grew up on it, we most definitely have all performed it in an end of year showcase, and I am pretty sure that I had some form of graphic that read “pink goes good with green x” as my Bebo skin when I was 11.

I hadn’t seen the show since I was 12 and had kind of forgotten about it because I was always like “ah sure I’ve seen it that’s grand”, yet have always recommended it to people who are looking for a show when they come over because I’ve always said that it’s an enjoyable and easy watch and everyone is bound to like it. For some reason, I had always felt like I had outgrown it because it was a show that I loved when I was a kid, but lemme tell you something hun and that is that “Wicked” can in fact not be outgrown in any way, shape or form and you can now find me singing “Dancing Through Life” up and down Chiswick High Road most evenings.

There are SO MANY THINGS that I had forgotten about within the show so these are my takings away from my throwback Thursday:

  1. Stephen Schwartz has provided us with absolute BOPS within this show. It’s just bop after bop. Except for “Something Bad” and “Sentimental Man”. They can go.
  2. I genuinely think that I may be more attracted to the fictional character of Fiyero than I ever will be to any living, breathing male that I may come across in my everyday life. You keep swinging around that lamppost on your way to the Ozdust Ballroom Fiyero hun x
  3. If I do ever actually meet a living, breathing male who sticks me enough for a prolong period of time which will then further lead him to propose to me and if I don’t get to wear Glinda’s “Thank Goodness” costume from the opening of Act 2 to my engagement party, there will be absolute war.
  4. No matter how old you are, Elphaba flying in “Defying Gravity” is guaranteed to give you all of the chills and take you back to being 11 and times where you were trying to hit that final riff while listening to the soundtrack on your Walkman which in my case often lead to my parents to think that I was screaming in pain but in reality I was just unknowingly forming pre-vocal nodules.
  5. “As Long As You’re Mine” is SAUCY out. Like. I used to be pure belting Elphaba’s opening verse in the shower when I was a child and there was nothing appropriate about that at all at all.
  6. Where was “I’m Not That Girl” when I was 18 and would be bawling on a night out talking to my friends about a lad who I’d shifted twice.
  7. WHY ARE THERE CREEPY MASCOTS IN “ONE SHORT DAY” THERE IS NO NEED FOR THAT KIND OF TRAUMA IN LIGHTHEARTED MUSICAL THEATRE?!?
  8. Fiyero is still hot. I will leave it at that.

Laura Benanti

Right. So. This may be a bit of a shock to you all and I am sorry to have to say this, but I am incredibly stagey. Less from a performance point of view, but more so in a knowledge of actors and shows kind of vibe, e.g. if you ask me to sing at a house party then I’ll want to die but inevitably cringe my way through Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”, but send me to a table quiz with a Broadway speciality round and I will let all of you know who won the 1988 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.***

Once again, I digress.

BUT. My staginess and appreciation of theatre actors was met with a buzz this week when I got to see Laura Benanti at Cadogan Hall with thanks once again TodayTix**** and their flash sales making performances more accesible.

Now, she is an absolute queen and a half. First of all, I would like to think that her rendition of “Vanilla Ice Cream” is what I’ll hear upon my ascension to heaven because there is no other term for it outside of “grossly angelic”, and secondly she is an absolute skit and a bit. If you don’t already follow her on Instagram then I strongly urge you to do so right now as I’ve just spent the last 47 minutes trawling through her posts and screaming at her hilarity and followed it up with watching clips from her appearances on The Stephen Colbert Show where she regularly impersonates Melania Trump and genuinely if we can ship the original out and place her in the White House instead that would be absolutely fab.

Seriously though I am in absolute awe of this Tony-winning ANGEL like imagine listing playing Maria Von Trapp on Broadway at 18 as your first professional gig like I was barely cast in my university’s musical society show at that age.

Some people.*****

The Light in the Piazza

This show is a bit like “Game of Thrones” in the sense that I have made it seem like I know everything about it and have had a constant and extensive interest in all things relevant but coincidentally have only seen it when someone in my life makes an appearance and then I’m all like “oooohhhhhh so this is what the hype is about because this shit is good.”

On Monday, I went to see this show at Southbank Centre, and a bit like Sweat, I completely went in blind, not knowing anything about the show or having listened to the soundtrack buuuuuut all I knew was that my friend Molly was in it understudying Clara (!!!) so once again I hopped on that TodayTix****** and got myself some rush tickets and was absolutely weak because this show is beyond gorgeous and I now have it on a loop x

Things that I have taken away from seeing it are;

  1. Italian is without a doubt the sexiest language I will ever hear.
  2. Slight feelings of rage as my baseball hat was blown off my head as I walked home from the gym a few weeks back and there was no ridiculously attractive European male in an unnervingly nearby vicinity who would catch it for me and then further introduce himself to me via song upon its return.
  3. My friend Molly is the coolest.
  4. I need someone to hop on those AerLingus summer offers and whisk me away to Florence for the rest of the summer x

Other news from theatreland:

LADS. I. Am. Working on a show.

My glorious sista friend Molly who is literally mentioned three sentences above has only gone and written a show which I am absolutely beyond buzzing to be working on as assistant director. It is going to be a super cool and powerful show for all of my sistas out there as it looks at the songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein and the feminism weaved into their women’s songs as well as taking the sexism contained in the text and turning it on its head by using their songs to tell the story of the #MeToo movement. 

“Rodgers and Hammerstein (& Me Too) is running from July 30th-August 3rd at The Bread and Roses Theatre and tickets are available now from this link here waheeeeeeyyyy https://lineupnow.com/event/rodgers-hammerstein-me-too

And so for this month this is the entirety of my news from theatrical life in London and I honestly feel like I’ve just written an excerpt from Rachel Berry’s diary so I now need to go eat carbs and listen to Bowie or watch Star Wars to cleanse my stagey soul.

Until next time,

Much love and respect to ya pals,

Al x

*I meant to edit this out but then became too lazy so please enjoy my mental state.

** This is morally incorrect but sis can only afford to see “Hamilton” once in this lifetime yano.

***It was Joanna Gleeson for “Into the Woods” and honestly #deserved

****Genuinely, just sponsor me.

***** She won the Tony for “Gypsy”. That is a line from “Gypsy”. I’ll see myself out.

****** This is truly getting ridiculous.

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