January 1998

I visited London on one of my semi-regular trips on the 22nd of January this year. This is a brief account of what I saw and what I thought.

The day started well as I got into London from Addleston Surrey earlier than I thought. Upon arriving I found the buzz was still the same. After just walking for a while I decided to get a ticket for Starlight Express my chosen show this time. I obtained the tickets from a booth in Leicester Square as I knew the theatre was a little farther out than usual (I usually buy the tickets in the Box office as this means you don’t have to pay a handling charge) The tickets were good value, £21.00 and I was only 7 rows from the front (not necessarily a good or a bad thing as the show takes up most of the Theatre, making almost anywhere is a good seat.)

At this point I noticed the time and as the show didn’t start until 7:45pm I realized I had quite a lot of time to kill so I thought of the new IMAX, but then decided on the Rock Circus (Trocadero Leicester Square). It was worth seeing, but personally I thought not worth the £7.95 entrance fee. I thought Madame Tussaud’s was much better.

Upon leaving here I decided to splash out and see a matinee as well as the evening show I already had booked. So back to one of the kiosks selling tickets and I got a list of shows showing matinee days and prices. I’d just left it too late to see Les Miserables for the 4th time and Miss Saigon had its matinee on a different day so I settled on Blood Brothers for the 2nd time.

I just walked to the theatre and managed to obtain a ticket with 10 mins to curtain up. The ticket cost me about £26.00 and again I was only a few rows from the front. I didn’t know any of the cast by name but upon reading the Program I realized who Mrs. Johnson was, Lyn Paul an instantly recognizable voice from the New Seekers “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing”.

An excellent performance with potentially a difficult audience, a lot of School groups in. Another member of the cast who deserves a mention is Emily-Michelle Watkins as “Linda” a very striking lady with one of the sexiest laughs I have ever heard, who gave a marvellous performance in a roll that can be overshadowed by that of “Micky”. Keith Burns as the “Narrator” brought great menace to the role, which he also did when I saw him as “Thuy” in Miss Saigon, a role he created.

Although I have singled out these three performers I thoroughly enjoyed the whole performance and thought all the cast were excellent.

At the end of the show I had a quick trip across London to Victoria Station, a fun trip during rush hour for someone still trying to master the reading of route maps. I got to the theatre by about 6:15pm and when the Box office couldn’t find my tickets I nearly had heart failure, but the very helpful lady in the box office said it was just due to the fact they hadn’t been delivered yet.

With over an hour to kill and not seeing anywhere recognisable from previous trips, I ventured back into Victoria Station. I had a drink and a burger in one of the Bars, and had time to be amazed by the selection of shops etc inside the Station.

Showtime, I had a bottle of lager in the Bar (normal price for a theatre) and took my seat, you cannot be prepared for the layout of this theatre, it’s spectacular. As stated earlier, I was only a few rows from the front just to the left of the “Paddock” and if I chose to reach up I could have touched the skaters on my right side (NOT A GOOD IDEA as they move at quite a speed). For someone who can’t stand on roller-skates the mobility of the cast was awe inspiring.

I only knew 2 songs from the show before I sat down “Starlight Express” & “Next Time You Fall In Love” but almost all of the songs were ones you’d want to hear again and again especially: “Make Up My Heart” sang by “Pearl” and “U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D.” sang by “Dinah, Ashley & Buffy” ( the carriages ). Cast members who stood out for me were: Tony Rouse who played “Greaseball”, Dawn Buckland “Pearl” both apparently stand-ins, and James Gillan as “Rusty”.

I hope the last person is correct as I missed the announcement about “Roles will be played by…” but whoever it was he was excellent.

Well, that was about it.

After the show I headed for Waterloo. One quick complaint to Rail-track, or whoever runs that station. Some people who can give information would be helpful, one person asked, a grunt as a response, and I got on the wrong train, had to travel one stop get off and return to the station and try again. But London was exhilarating, Fun, COLD, fast…and I’ll be back as soon as possible.

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