As we come to the end of Love Theatre Day, I thought it would be a good idea to check in with the short & sweet tour for my favourite 2016 show contender…
After starting off at Birmingham Rep (where I ended up seeing the show four times, reviewing once it got out of previews), it headed up to Manchester. Unfortunately for me, this clashed with the final week of Sunny Afternoon – I had nine shows to do over six days, and there was no way of dashing up & back in that schedule. So it was another break of a few weeks for me before I could re-join the tour.
A few days after my final West End Sunny show (and in the midst of a very busy reviewing week), I took a day trip up to Leeds. Yep, you read that correctly! In all I spent about 6.5 hours travelling, but it couldn’t have been more worth it. Obviously I was incredibly chuffed to be back watching the show after three weeks off, but returning to it at this particular theatre was a real treat. And it made me even more pleased with myself for booking another two-show day in for the Saturday!
I fell in love with the West Yorkshire Playhouse as soon as I set foot in there for the first time. The best way I can think of to describe it is the ‘Goldilocks theatre’; everything about it was “just right”. It’s not too big, not too small – the front row is on the stage itself… (And I was obviously sat in the front row for every show.) Adam said that it almost felt like they were playing in the round, with all the different entrances & spaces to roam within the auditorium – and if you were there you could definitely understand that. It’s absolutely my favourite venue on the tour so far, possibly even outdoing the Globe (though that is definitely a unique venue & will obviously hold a special place in my heart). You could sense how much the cast enjoyed it too, which adds that little something.
Three shows of sheer joy. With a few tears thrown in for good measure! And I ticked a few things off that are important when you’re a big fan of a show… At the Globe I was pleased to have Lily balance on my head to look for Tips – but it took until Leeds for me to finally ‘meet’ Harry & Adi, and also wipe Lily’s stick for her in the second act! I think I was a tad too pleased (& overeager) about the last one, but it’s the little things that count. Happily, I also had several opportunities to catch up with people after the shows – and Jess also joined me for the Saturday so that was an extra cause for giggles!
Then last week the show came back down to the Midlands to Warwick Arts Centre. Disappointingly not in Warwick itself, as that would’ve been nice for a spot of tourism, but rather on the university campus in Coventry. Having said that, it was a lot easier to get to than I’d anticipated (always good when you’re reliant on public transport).
In contrast with Leeds, this was quite a compact theatre. The stage wasn’t quite big enough to fit the entire set (no beach this time), which apparently was also the case in Manchester, but there was an intimate feel to the proceedings which was really nice. I enjoyed the sort of nostalgia (if you can call it that) of the stage set-up; there was no beach at the Globe, after all.
I’d come very close to booking the last train back to London and doing both shows but for once I was sensible – very strange to just do the matinée! It was an incredibly emotional show for me (let’s put it this way, I was crying at Leaving On A Jet Plane), which I’m hoping is me getting my sadness about it leaving the UK out of the way so I can get as much enjoyment as possible out of the final venue…
Next stop: Bristol!
They’ve just done their first show of the week today, and I’ll be heading over for the Saturday matinée (with my parents), then a double show Sunday (matinée with Sandie, solo outing in the evening). I couldn’t ask for a better way to celebrate my birthday! Five hours in a theatre watching a really special show.