May 2001

Well haven’t heard from me for a while have you, Well my god it’s almost been 5 months… I know I know and I’m sorry but I must admit I have a mistress to rival my own first love… I visited New York late last year and WOW.

So as I’m planning my next trip there for this August and the fact that the bank manager found the secret trap door I had to their spare fiver’s and tenners vault. Then I have to curtail my visits this year. Mind you the fact that I’ve seen most of the shows I wanted to see that are running at the moment, made the parting slightly easier to bear.

Of course I would love to see shows I’ve seen before again, as this for me is never a waste of money (sorry Nikki). But something had to give and well it was London this year. But I can assure you I will make up for it and if she lets me back again I will be faithful for ever more …. after this one last trip to the Big Apple.


So enough of the ramblings of this nutcase when did I get there? What did I see? And what did I think? Well I arrived in London just after midday on the 21st of May. In fact this was just after my 34th Birthday, which took place on the previous Saturday. Not edging for presents here just a happy Birthday e-mail will do :o)

I was staying at the Royal Adelphi again in Villiers Street right next to Charring Cross Railway Station, so about as central as you can get without taking a second mortgage for a 3 night stay.

Well my room was clean, everything there worked and the people running it were very friendly, and, they remembered me as well, mind you check out descriptions in earlier reports of what I look like and you’ll see why this isn’t too difficult. This is a great budget hotel, which for me barring any unforeseen problems will be my base for future trips.

I was on a time-scale this time dictated by finance and the fact that I was trying to save for the above mentioned trip, and so really shouldn’t have been here anyway. But I couldn’t miss this chance. What chance? Well I’m getting to that, gimme a break, just be patient :o)

Well apart from the fact that this is probably the longest I’ve been away from London in living memory, well the last 7 years anyway. There were 2 shows I really wanted to see. One was NOISES OFF a farce running now at the Piccadilly Theatre, and the other was I REALLY wanted to see another WEST END CARES CABARET.
So I get to London and head, after briefly dropping off my stuff at the hotel, for the Cinema. Well I thought as I was only here for a short time and there were a few movies I wanted to see to make this a Theatre and Cinema trip.

So it was with Steven Seagal’s latest outing that I spent the afternoon. Now EXIT WOUNDS as this movie is called is a great way to spend an afternoon. Well at least if you have cohones excuse the spelling but my spell checker doesn’t do Spanish. ;o) Basically it’s a guy thing. I mean a big guy beating up several bigger guys at once gives you a buzz second only to … well you get the picture. In this movie we see the “big guy” as a cop busted down the ranks for saving the Vice-President. Ingratitude or what ! Now if it were the current incumbent of the oval office that he saved then I personally would have shot him for this action. But that’s my personal view :o) Any-how he is sent to a down town precinct known for its problems and here he finds corruption on a mega scale. I won’t spoil the plot for you but put it this way. Half the population of a smallish town get chucked about, shot, stabbed and generally miss-handled, most of this done by the cops. A Great action movie, check your brain at the door and enjoy an all out shoot / beat ’em up in the old tradition.

The first evening it was two shows. NOISES OFF and the Cabaret. So after sustenance at the Mecca of KFC fans, and, a quick change that any performer would have been proud of, it was out and about again, heading for the Piccadilly Theatre.

One thing I forgot to mention is that during most of the days I spent my time wandering like a demented David Bailey snapping anything that DIDN’T move. Or that’s what it probably seemed like to anyone watching me. Well the truth of the matter is that I splashed out on a digital camera. It was a business expense but I also can use it for my attempt at a web page.

So I got to the Theatre… NOISES OFF written by Michael Frayn is a great show that strangely enough I first saw on video. It was a movie starring Michael Caine, Denholm Elliott, Carol Burnette, Christopher Reeve and John Ritter amongst others.

It is set in a Theatre where a semi-pro company are variously rehearsing, and performing a farce called “Nothing On”. Well the cast of this production includes Lynn Redgrave, (star of Georgy Girl and many other movies and TV series in the states), Peter Egan (Ever Decreasing Circles) Susie Blake (The Victoria Wood Show) and Jeff Rawle (George from Drop the Dead Donkey), and the production is excellent.

I love farce anyway and this is farce at its best.

The pace especially in the “Second Act” (the brackets are as an attempt at an explanation as we the audience only really get to see the first act of “Nothing On” 3 times, on various dates and from various angles) is breathtaking and must prove literally so for the cast. In the show, first act we see the company on a late running tech / dress rehearsal on the night prior to opening. Next we see back-stage as the cast perform at another Theatre a month later and the “Third Act” we see the first act performed on the last date of the tour.

What makes this work is the tangled lives lead by the cast including, affairs, alcoholism, nose bleeds and basic ineptitude. Although as you know “I’m not good with story lines ….” Go see this show. I would certainly love to see it again, in fact you really need to see it at least twice as the pace the first time is so frenetic that you miss at least a third of the gags.

So with an early finish and the fact that I was right next door to the Doughnut shop I love so much, I made a purchase and headed for my hotel.

No I haven’t forgotten the other show, it was just as the venue that holds these wonderful evenings now is home to a show of its own. They now start at 11:30pm so I had an hour to kill.

The WEST END CARES CABARET’S are organised by CRUSAID a charity that raises money for AIDS research. And most of the performers in West End shows give their time to entertain, what is still mainly a crowd of other performers. But as I keep saying these shows are excellent. The atmosphere is brilliant, the talent on show second to none.

On Monday last, it was the turn of the cast of “The BEAUTIFUL GAME”, and they treated us to a football themed evening. I won’t embarrass myself by trying to guess the cast members that took part, suffice to say that Hannah Waddingham was in the audience so my night was complete :o). Did I go up and ask for her autograph…. Hell no, I mean come on it took me 20 mins to pluck up the courage to talk to someone I sort of knew there, Sarah lark “Little Girl” in “The Witches of Eastwick”.

Outstanding points of the evening for me included the “Chicago Tango” explanation of why certain cast members were “off” at any given time. The football style round up of other shows in the West End, with a great line about MAMA MIA that was not only funny but very true. The moment at the end of “You are the Weakest musical ” when one of the performers phone rang in his pocket and so “Ann Robinson” changed the routine and gave the prize to the other contender. A great evening, and one I REALLY wish I could attend more of.


Infact if any millionaires out there want to pay me to live in London and write reviews of shows then I will be more than happy to ……… bite your hand off really :o) I can be packed in …… oh 20 minutes.

It was at this evening I also met an old friend. Well not an OLD friend but you get the picture. In fact a very nice friend, Amy who was a dresser at MISS SAIGON. Who now dresses 6 guys in the Witches of Eastwick…. Who says you can’t get your dream job, not my dream job mind you ….although….. Thinking of it if the lovely Hannah needs help with her Jeans / crop top or football strip then I’d leave the Employment Service tomorrow! ;O)

As I said I also met with Sarah Lark, who was with her partner, sorry I didn’t get your name, and who I’m sure will go far in the world of Musical Theatre. She has a wonderful voice and a great personality to match and no I’m not trying to chat her up ;o) Although a tip of any future roles would be appreciated and I look forward to seeing her in many more Shows.

So a weary Taff headed back towards his hotel about 2am on Tuesday morning and after a few hours sleep it was DAYTIME.


Well today was definitely a Cinema and Theatre day. I mean by anyone’s standards 2 movies and a show is going it some. So first port of call was the Empire Leicester Square to see “the Mummy Returns”, a great effects laden blockbuster. That doesn’t take itself too seriously. This movie is great fun. It has humour, action, unbelievable special affects and a story that you can follow while tapping your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. Brendan Fraser heroic but also the sort of person who says he “really hates mummy’s” while fighting 3 of them, Rachel Weisz Very sexy, feisty and brainy, in fact the perfect woman when you think about it…. Possibly except for the fact that she can see things that happened 3,000 years ago and has a habit of opening things without thinking of the consequences, almost fatal in this type of movie.

After lunch it was time to explore my feminine side or at least try and figure out what makes that OTHER SPECIES tick. With Bridget Jones’s Diary a wonderful movie starring the gorgeous Rene Zellweger, admission here I wanted to marry this woman after Jerry Maguire and would probably have stood a reasonable chance I mean come on my only competition at that time was Tom cruise and who wouldn’t chose a slightly rotund, long haired Civil Servant over a multi-millionaire….. movie star….. sex god ….. okay okay I get the picture.

But a guy can dream can’t he ….. Can’t he?? This is a great movie, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s a “chick flick” I mean it talks for all single people of a certain age. Yours truly being one of them, and sometimes with an insight that can be painful. I mean one of the first scenes featuring Bridget a bottle of wine and “All by myself” is too close for comfort. And I KNOW I’m gonna get some stick over that admission :o) But this being a movie it gives us hope without the usual saccharine ending. Go on see it if you’re single or attached. As if your attached it may at least give you some insight into what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that most AWFUL of questions. Which question? Go and check out the movie. Also in the movie is Hugh Grant who is great as the slimy boss.

To the last evening of my trip and “The Blues Brothers” well this is really a tribute to the Blues Brothers, as the originals are, or in one case, were, comedians playing roles. But such is the phenomenon that is the BLUES BROTHERS they live on in a variety of ways, movies, records even a restaurant chain. Well this is the British version with two performers Simon Foster and Brad Henshaw playing Jake and Elwood Blues.
Basically this is a concert as there is no story what so ever and all the cast do is perform with a band and backing singers a number of Blues classics. But this does not detract from a great show. You know what you’re going to get when you book, or at least you should. I mean hell the movie had virtually no story other than introducing the members of the band and then to playing loads of blues songs. Add to this a tonne of car chases and you have the ingredients to one of the greatest sleeper hits ever. So why should this show be any different.

Into the mix add Antonio Fargas (Huggy Bear from Starsky & Hutch) as special guest star and you have an evening when 89% of the audience end up dancing in the aisles…. I say 89% as a few around me sat there looking very nervous and embarrassed. All I can think is that they couldn’t get tickets for Phantom and must have gone for the next nearest Theatre.

One thing I will say is that this show can’t be selling that well so go and see it soon. I say this as I was very specific I booked an aisle seat front row of the circle, I ended up with seat H14 in the stalls, as there weren’t enough people in so they only opened the Stalls the evening I was there. This minor glitch aside it was a brilliant show.

So it was time to go home, and here I am in a darkened room with a can of Carling loads of memories and blistered feet. So that can mean only one thing…. Time to start planning my return…. To the vault for the used fivers, so I can get back sooner rather than later. I mean there’s the rumour of GYPSY, the strong rumour of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, Ruthie in PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED, a new cast at WITCHES.

Hell come on I can’t go too long. Even my colleagues at work know when I need to visit the metropolis, it’s usually around the time I start suggesting to an out of work Labourer that he may want to try learning a few bars of ” Oh God I need this job” for his next interview :o) See Ya

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