December 2004

Well I thought we’d start with a quiz this time…Name the Shows –

1- Which Musical features the song which starts “boom chka chka…boom chka chka…” ?

2- Which musical tells us that Pop Idol was the start of the end of Music as we know it…?

3- Which household item (not so common today) has held a place of honour in the Guinness book of records and the West End for over half a Century?

4- Which musical features a bar owner who robs the dead in the sewers…?

5- Which musical tells us to ” … be a smarty come and join the **** Party” ?

Well that’s what I saw this trip. So the trip panned out like this…

We start at the Strand theatre for a matinee of “The Rat Pack Live” this is a great show that features three very talented performers who “play” Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis jnr.

The premise of the show is that you’re at a performance by the Rat Pack at the Sands hotel in Las Vegas. Throughout the show the performers stay in character and perform well known songs by the members of the pack, since the 20th November this has been a Christmas themed show so as well as “Mr Bo Jangles”, “New York New York” and “That’s Amore” you also have some Christmas favourites as well, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”, “Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer”, the latter sung by Dean Martin… who else.

I really enjoyed the show and the performances were for me, (not the greatest fan of the trio, Sammy being my favourite), excellent. I think I saw all the main players, as there were no announcements and no little slips of paper in the programmes. So in that case the performers were Stephen Triffitt as “the Chairman – Frank Sinatra” Mark Adams as “Dean Martin” and David Hayes as “Sammy Davis Jnr.”.

Oh and it was a heck of a way to go to meet a relative who lives three streets away from me, quite a shock as she came walking towards me I can tell you, but I digress.

For the evening performance I had chosen to revisit “GaGa land”, with the Queen Musical “We Will Rock You”.

As those of you who have seen it will know this is a high octane … loud…raucous…fun…great night out. On this night a little too raucous for one member of the audience who decided to heckle the cast, when will some people learn!

I saw an alternate “Scaramouche” in the wonderful form of (I believe) Jenna Lee-James, who in my opinion will definitely keep Hannah Jane Fox looking over her shoulder, as she was brilliant. Mig Ayesa was on good form as “Galileo” but the real surprise for me was the wonderful Mazz Murray as “Killer Queen”, not only was she SO SEXY but she has a brilliant voice and stage presence, add to that great comic timing and she was worth the price of admission on her own, WOW!

Most of you must know the story by now but basically it tells of a time when all live music is banned and Globalsoft provides computer generated soft rock for the masses. A group of Bohemians search for “The Dreamer” a person who will lead them to the place of “living Rock” and bring Rock back to the world.

The Show obviously features the music of Queen and was written by Ben Elton, so you know you’re in for some fun as well. A great way to end the first day of a trip.


A quieter day for me only one show and hope your holding tight to your mice but it wasn’t a musical!

In fact it was a … Drama!!

In even MORE FACT it was a 53-year-old drama…Do you know what it is yet???

Well I’ll let you think it over for a while and tell you about the rest of the day.

Rob went to the cinema, and saw “Bridget Jones – The Edge of Reason”, I know it is a “girls” movie and currently being between female companionship, at least none available to attend this cinematic masterpiece with me I attended alone, and talk about feeling like a spare… Anyway when I got over the initial uncomfortable ness, I really enjoyed this fun movie, basically it starts where the first one ended and features those staples of a new relationship, skydiving into a pigsty, telling you partner how much you love their body and what you got up to last night … when your on their speakerphone and their with an ambassador and members of the board of Amnesty international… oh and a short stay in a Tai jail for drug smuggling! All the usual mundane everyday things you know.

Great movie, great performances, everyone should see it even single men … if they can put up with the stares they get buying the ticket and walking to their seat! I mean I’m used to this, I’m a straight musical theatre fan what more can I say!

The show of the day, as if you didn’t know was “The Mousetrap” the Agatha Christie Whodunit that’s been entertaining audiences for over 21,500 performances and which has just entered it’s 53rd year.

Now I know what you all want to know and … the butler did it! …

Now before you get all irate, there isn’t a butler in this play.

You didn’t REALLY think I was going to give it away now did you, although I will say I did guess who did it, but only a matter of a few minutes before it was revealed.

The play hasn’t really dated too much, a strange thing to say for a period piece, but it was very much of it’s time and people expect that, so the usually negative “dated” description isn’t a fair one.

I was pleasantly surprised to know one of the members of the cast John Lyons as “Major Metcalf” who starred alongside David Jason in the “Touch of Frost” television series.

All performances were good and the story flows well, all in all an enjoyable way to join a none too exclusive club.

And boy is that a small theatre!

Saturday –

And a full day, with “Les Miserables” for a matinee and “The Producers” for an evening performance.

I wanted to see “Les Mis” at it’s new home basically to look for changes and to see if it was as good there as I remember it being at the Palace. And in most ways yes it’s every bit as good, the performances even though I saw some alternates were spot on, the stage although smaller was used very well, and the barricade was still as impressive, oh and the new whatever it was called that Cam Mack used to reduce the orchestra was noticeable but that was probably because I was listening for it. It wasn’t that it was that bad just different. Stand out performances for me were, as always Joanna Ampil and in this performance the gentleman who played “Javert” Mark Dickinson if my programme is to be believed, who was excellent.

Oh and prospective audience members please take note, take some cough sweets with you, this was without doubt the noisiest audience I have ever had the misfortune to be in, I mean take them out the wrappers before the show, take a small bottle of water with you, anything! But please don’t just keep on coughing throughout the poor performers quieter more emotional numbers.

Saturday night and the reason for this quicker than intended return trip, “The Producers” the new Mel Brooks musical, which has eventually, arrived from Broadway where it continues to be a smash.

I always intended to see this show, but was happy to wait until later next year, until that is Richard Dreyfuss had to leave the show, and Nathan Lane stepped in for a “strictly limited season”.

Now I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Nathan Lanes performances in “The Birdcage” and other movies and knew that he created the role of “Max Bialystock” so the chance to see him on stage was too good to miss.

So there I was entering the theatre with some trepidation praying not to see those little A4 signs by the box office or slips of paper in the programmes… Guess what I was greeted with, yep 2 A4 signs! Thankfully when I read them they related to the indisposition of James Dreyfus who normally plays “Carmen Ghia”.

Whoof that was close! I head for my seat trying to remember how far back I was sitting, as I knew I booked this ticket after Nathan’s arrival was announced and the ticket sails had jumped significantly, I looked at my ticket and … oh ok… any closer and I’d be PERFORMING Springtime for Hitler not watching it, I was in row A seat 24. Excellent.

This musical is based on the movie of the same name made by Brooks back in 1968. Side note here a new movie this time of the Musical Is going into production early next year.

The story is of a Broadway producer who although once the toast of the great white way… is now more it’s left over strudel! He couldn’t have a hit with Miss Saigon 2. Anyway, a young accountant “Leo Bloom” Lee Evans, comes to do his books and happens to mention that:

1- He always wanted to be a producer, and
2- ” a person could make more money with a flop than with a hit” and there in lies this tale, they set about finding and producing the worst show on earth.

This really is a great fun show, with excellent performances across the board. Special mention does of course go to Nathan who is faultless and a true comedy genius, you can see glimpses of this in his movies, I mean anyone not acted off the screen by Robin Williams has to be good, but on stage he is “the man”, Lee Evans is also very funny and their chemistry is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the show, Lee also displays a surprise in the form of a great singing voice, for me the other great performance was Leigh Zimmerman as “Ulla”, who has legs up to my neck …sorry HER neck! Freudian slip there, but also great comic timing and a wonderful voice.

Stand out moments in this show many and varied, I mean I’m a great Mel Brooks fan and some of the one liners that went over some peoples heads were hilarious homage’s to his movies. Someone mentions being a king and a chorus member deadpans ” It’s good to be da king”. Oh also “If you got it flawnt eet” (go see the show)

Now that I’ve seen Nathan Lane in the role I’m happy, and on the strength of the show it is definitely one I’ll be revisiting again and again, and I hope it has a very long and profitable run.

One thing did happen the night I saw it, after Lee’s first big solo number ” I wanna be a producer” the set locked out, actually it happened during the number as from where I was sitting I suddenly realised I could see members of the stage crew at the rear of the stage, funnily enough it was about this time one of them realised they could see me too and with a look of total fear shot off to tell someone, the curtain came down and Lee Evans was left stranded front of curtain for about 10 minutes, luckily he just brought his stand-up talents to bare and messed with the audience for a while, even at one point asking for questions. Great fun.

A wonderful way to finish a great trip.

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