The time of the year has come again for me to take my personal days. If you recall, last year I took them about this time to go see The Rugby Sevens and the David Bowie Is … exhibit in London. The plan had originally been to go back to the Sevens again this year and also see a show on the West End.
However, the show I was seeing, Once, only had cheap tickets for the Saturday matinee, not the Friday and I didn’t want to pay for the Rugby Sevens (which are expensive) if I was only going for one of the two days (they run from Saturday morning to Sunday night) so I had to choose and of course I chose the show (though I still wish I could have done both).
So I saw Once, and it was good – not amazing but good and I don’t regret going. The music and acting were slightly stronger than the actual story itself but the way it was constructed was interesting to watch – there was no orchestra because all of the actors are also musicians (the show is about musicians). The best way for me to describe it is to say it was like watching an independent film on stage, if that makes any sense.
Also, I discovered I need to learn to read a calendar better. Don’t worry, I didn’t miss flights or shows or anything like that. This was something far more exciting. See, when Once debuted on the West End it starred Zrinka Cvitesic (who won an Olivier for the role) and Declan Bennett. Then, after a few months, Declan was replaced by Arthur Darvill, who originally replaced Steve Kazee on Broadway.
When I bought my ticket, I read the calendar as the weekend before I was going was the final performances for Zrinka and Arthur, who were leaving, and the rest of the Original London Cast (OLC) would be slowly leaving over the next days. This is where my lack of calendar skills comes in. Turns out it was the weekend I was going, not the weekend before that they were talking about. So I got to see Zrinka and Arthur, along with the whole OLC on their final day, which was awesome. You can see them performing Once’s most popular song, Falling Slowly, here. Everyone in this video I saw on stage.
And on Sunday I mostly hung out with friends before leaving Monday morning. But I just want to back up a bit to Friday. I arrived early Friday morning and of course my friends were all working, like regular people do, so I was on my own. Naturally, I headed straight for the West End. I know most people think I only love it there because there are so many theatres, but that’s not entirely true. I love the atmosphere and culture that is created there. Because there are so many theatres within only a few blocks I think it makes for such a lively environment no matter the time of day (not to mention the best restaurants and pubs in the city, in my opinion).
But seriously, there are so many theatres. To illustrate my point, I decided to spend some of my free time on Friday making this photo essay of the theatres within about a four square block radius. Here they are:
And those are only the big ones which I knew the locations of. Had I put any effort into looking them up, I could have easily found dozens more of the smaller theatres too.
And an honourable mention to the famous Pineapple Dance Studios. I had to go by twice to get this photo because the first time there were a load of dancers hanging around out front in their leg warmers (literally).
They say the neon lights are bright
They say there’s magic in the air
– On Broadway (The Drifters)