Birthday festival

It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and, since I’m now living in London, I decided to take a leaf out of the Queen’s book and celebrate on more than one day… A whole week, to be precise! And at my grand old age (a friend, who shall remain nameless, delights in calling me ‘Grandma’!) it was a tiring feat. So, where did it start?

Thursday 20 November – Shakespeare in Love

Organised when Shakespeare in Love was my favourite show on the West End (sorry guys, Sunny Afternoon now has that dubious honour!) – a real treat as I’d managed to bag a premium seat for half the price!

It still delighted me, even though this was my 7th visit. The show somehow manages to evolve continually; each performance has been ever so subtly  different from the last. And it just gets funnier! I may know much of the script by heart (much like Viola with Shakespeare’s own work, although I don’t sit there mouthing the words!), but the anticipation that creates has the same effect as a first viewing. My favourite part remains the balcony scene, brilliantly reimagined for the stage – brought to hilarious heights with the addition of wingman Marlowe. I do also love that it ends with a jig, just like a play of its kind would in Shakespeare’s own day!


Friday 21 November – Sunny Afternoon

I went for one of the several ingenious £19.64 offers to save some money – and found myself in the back row of the balcony… The very top! Strangely it was a better view than my very first visit: balcony row B. And there’s nobody behind to annoy when you get up for “a little bit of a bop” at the end! More to follow…


Saturday 22 November – Sunny Afternoon

I know what you’re thinking: change the record! But no, no I won’t. I was back in the stalls for this performance – I definitely feel like I’m involved being sat 2nd row from the front! Plus I was sat next to two very excitable ladies who needed no encouragement to stand up at the end (or even before the end, following another stunning a capella rendition of ‘Days’).

Adam Sopp, Dominic Tighe, George Maguire, Tam Williams and John Dagleish in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins.
Adam Sopp, Dominic Tighe, George Maguire, Tam Williams and John Dagleish in Sunny Afternoon
Photo credit: Kevin Cummins

Sunday 23 November – Cardiff

Ooh, yay, a very early start! Up and ready for the 9.30am train from Paddington… And the reason? It was the long-awaited Kasabian gig! Only had to wait since July…

But first, a trip to the refurbished and reinvented Doctor Who Experience. It’s great to regress to childhood every now and then, especially when you can geek out at the same time! And laugh at your friend because she’s scared of the Weeping Angels appearing in the dark… (Sorry!)


And then to the main event: Kasabian! I hadn’t been to a ‘proper’ gig since Stereophonics in March 2010 (well, actually my last gig was Paul McCartney in June of the same year, but I was sat down with my family then – the only way to experience a gig is by standing up), so was really excited. Slightly nervous as it can occasionally get a bit rough, but I do now have London rush hour commute experience at least!

Best. Gig. Ever. Ashamedly I hadn’t managed to learn all the songs, as I’ve been too busy constantly listening to The Kinks! (Not sure why…) However, I knew more than enough of the words (often I’d just start singing without realising which song it was!) – and, happily, they finished the night with LSF. My favourite song of theirs, and one of my favourite songs full stop. I had just enough of my voice left to belt the whole thing out, along with an extended chant of aah-aahs at the end. Many were still going about half an hour after the gig had finished! For the first time ever I could feel my vocal cords becoming rather warm, but still I didn’t manage to lose my voice…


Monday 24 November – Sunny Afternoon

I should’ve been finishing off my studying, but after an extended stay on the train back from Cardiff (stuck outside the Severn Tunnel whilst it was being repaired…) I needed some excitement. And, to be honest, I was hoping there was still time to tip my voice over the edge!

I didn’t do that, but I got a new view of the show (front row of the dress circle – ooh!) and really enjoyed myself once again. Found out afterwards that Roger Taylor (from Queen) was also in the audience! And ended up meeting another Sunny Afternoon addict that I’d been talking to on Twitter earlier that day. See, it’s not just me!

Ned Derrington in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins.
Ned Derrington in Sunny Afternoon
Photo credit: Kevin Cummins

Tuesday 25 November – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

For once, I really wish I hadn’t been on my own! Obviously it’s a very family friendly show, so there were lots of kiddies in the audience. Plus quite a few couples – but very few individuals. Had a ticket upgrade (back row of the balcony to front row of the grand circle!) which sweetened the experience – and I did get into it more during the 2nd half, once they’d met Wonka and gone into the factory.


The sets were stunning (the glass elevator was particularly fantastical), I enjoyed the songs (a lot of Jazz Age inspired numbers!) and little Scottish Charlie Bucket was brilliant.

And the trip was rounded off with a walk through a very Christmassy Covent Garden…


Wednesday 26 November – double show day

My first double show day since Saturday 30 August! Definitely needed after a very late night finishing off my assignment…

First on the bill was King Charles III. Really not sure what to make of this one! For me, it all seemed rather ambiguous. Don’t get me wrong, it was funny and definitely thought-provoking – I just don’t know what message we were supposed to take away from it. And some of the actors should be reminded that people up in the balcony need to hear the dialogue too!


After a lot of wandering, it was time for White Christmas. This time the majority of my ticket was bought with birthday money from my family – and very pleased I was too, with the front row of the circle in the beautiful Dominion Theatre!


It’s been a while since I’ve gone to see a ‘proper’, classic musical. And it didn’t disappoint! Aled Jones was much better than expected (to be fair, the only things I associate with him are The Snowman and Songs of Praise – not my usual cup of tea), and Tom Chambers was marvellous! Especially in a very energetic tap number (‘I Love A Piano’) straight after the interval. The sets and costumes were fabulous, and it really did feel like Christmas – just for a bit…


So that was my first London birthday!

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