Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Musical Summer

London is considered by many to be the theater capital of the world, with an incredible offering of entertaining shows available to choose from. One of my favorite things to do is to take advantage of the wealth of musicals that are staged there. This summer, with a lot of guests passing through, we've gone to several shows that we've enjoyed. In May, we saw the smash hit of Billy Elliot, the musical based on the hit film of the same name. The story is set in North East England during the historic 1984-5 miners strike. Billy, the son of a miner, dreams of becoming a dancer, much to the disapproval of his family. The show is full of energy, passion and some incredible dancing by the young boys who share the role. It opened in NYC this past year and recently took home 10 Tony Awards. Next spring, it will open in Chicago, so catch it where you can. It's a great feel-good story.

In June, we saw the revival of A Little Night Music which first opened in New York in 1973. The musical is based on Ingmar Bergman's film Smiles of a Summer Night. The play is set in 19th century Sweden and tells the story of several romances, primarily centered around the romance between an actress, Desiree Armfeldt and her lover, Frederik, who has recently married an 18 year old "trophy wife."

We found the play to be witty and charming, and enjoyed hearing performed one of its featured songs Send in the Clowns. That song sure brings back a lot of memories. The musical closed in London at the end of July, and it is reported to be opening in New York in December. If you can't catch it there, how about when it opens in Paris in February 2010 at the Theatre du Chatelet with two of my favorites, Kristin Scott Thomas and Leslie Caron?

One of the highlights of our summer was attending the hit War Horse, which is drawing in capacity crowds. The story is set during World War I and revolves around a young soldier and the horse he loves. The story is based on a children's novel of the same name. It is such a touching story and an amazing spectacle at the same time. The horses are actually 7 foot tall puppets manipulated by 3 puppeteers. Even though we had seats on the second row, we were mesmerized by how lifelike the horses were. You can read more about it on the War Horse website.

Here's a short clip for you to see. Good news for those of you who might get to New York before London, rumor has it that it is coming to New York. See this article for more information about that possibility.

When our kids were in London, we all saw Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. We loved it and couldn't stop singing the songs for days. A new generation of fans!

The girls and I saw Phantom of the Opera on their last afternoon in town. The big news there is that Andrew Lloyd Webber has written a sequel to the story called Phantom:Love Never Dies. A lot of buzz about this one. It is set 10 years later at the fairgrounds on Coney Island where the Phantom and Christine are "reunited." Just what that means, I guess we'll have to wait and see. The latest word is that it will open in London next year, and then in New York in 2011. That has changed several times, so stay tuned and I'll keep you posted on the London end. In the meantime, keep a song in your heart, and stay tuned for the next post when I'll share more about music in London.

1 comment:

  1. This post made me want to go to a musical. Denise and I saw Billy Elliott when we were in London a couple of years ago. The scene where they were dancing and pounding their shovels (I think) on the floor was amazing. Can't wait for the sequel of Phantom. That is one of my all time favorite musicals. And I need to check out the book War Horse. I have never heard of it. Not good for a children's lit prof. Love your blog.