30.1.08

Birthday Theatre Outings, Part the Second

Friday saw the second performance since arriving here of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, this time with the understudy performing the lead role. Lewis Bradley's presence as Joseph just wasn't as enjoyable as Lee Mead's, I'd have to say off the bat. He's too skinny if nothing else, and although he's technically proficient (singing, blocking, movement, etc.) enough to perform the lead, there's just something of about it all. The kid is only 18 though, so it's not surprising he's not mastered every aspect of his craft yet. Nevertheless the show was enjoyable, though I'm not sure I've ever seen any performance of Dreamcoat that wasn't at least partially enjoyable.

The seat I had for it was front row centre in the upper circle (second level up) and the view was great, although being able to see more of the stage (and how things operate for scene changes and mechanical trickery) kills the illusion somewhat.

Saturday was a bit of a problematic day in that on weekends the tube shuts down on a grand scale (at times, anyway) for improvements, repairs and the like. I worked out what I needed to know to get to the other end of town to see Henry Rollins at the Apollo in Hammersmith, but once I got to the tube station I changed things up for no good reason and wound up getting on a train which, while listed as going to where I needed to go, actually terminated about halfway to where I needed to go. So when I got to the halfway point I had to come up with a Plan B, and given where I was, that meant switching to another line to go 2 stops, and switching to a third line to complete the journey.

However, being a Saturday, everywhere was packed. Every station, every car of every train... it was frustrating. Once I got to the last changeover I wound up having to wait almost 10 minutes... not because that was when the next train came but rather because the first two trains which came were packed far too full for me to squeeze on. I said to myself 'screw it' and just shoved my way onto the third one rather than wait any longer. After a few stops the crowd thinned out a bit so at least I could grab a seat and not be cramped.

Because of the tube snafu, I skipped going to a proper place for dinner and just went to the McDonald's by the tube station because I figured I was running short on time. The ticket said 6:30, and my plan was to be in the area by 5:00 to give myself time to find a place to eat. By the time I got to Hammersmith it was nearly 6:00 so I scarfed down some food as quickly as I could and dashed out. I had no idea where the concert hall was and I knew I had to find it soon. Thankfully it was very close (across the street from the mall place where the tube station lets out; of course it was across the street from the entrance complete opposite to the one I used to exit!) and I was there by 6:15 after I managed to figure out how to cross the road (it's a very busy road and there were no close crosswalks; I had to walk down the street for a ways to get across). I was happy to have gotten there in time, what with the ticket saying 6:30 and all.

Except 6:30, as I found out on the marquee, was when the doors opened, not when the performance began. That definitely explained the lineup of people still outside when I arrived. So, fine, 6:30 is when the doors open, no biggie, that probably meant the show started at 7:00. Nope, that was wishful thinking. The show actually started at 8:00. So, 6:30 came, I got in the queue, I went in, I went to the entrance fromt he lobby nearest my seat and waited. They let people into the theatre at 6:30 but not to their seats. The doors from the lobby were closed until about 7:00. So I wait, go take my seat, and wait. And wait. Thankfully I had some leg room otherwise that would have been an unpleasant night. Rollins has never gone less than 3 hours any previous time I've seen him so I knew I was in for a long night if I was uncomfortable. True to form and precedent, he went about 185 minutes after taking the stage promptly at about 8:02.

The show was funny as always, his stories are always interesting and he's got such a great way of telling them. The first time I saw him, at the Winspear, I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew he'd done spoken word tours for many years but I'd never been to one, heard one recorded, seen one on video, anything. I was quite blown away that first time, so much so that I'd never missed his subsequent appearances at the Winspear, until this past October of course.

Ultimately I had fun on the Saturday, but the whole process of getting to the fun part was somewhat trying. Oh well, that's what happens sometimes.

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