Theatre Etiquette

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As a fan of theatre, I was pretty shocked when this article landed in my inbox the other day. With reports that Ushers are being fitted with security cameras in an attempt to deter angry theatre goers, it got me thinking about general theatre etiquette. So let’s take this journey together on how to behave at the theatre…

  1. Preparation – The only thing worse than being stuck behind someone in a queue who isn’t ready, is being the person holding everyone up! Have your tickets out and your bags ready for searching so that we can all get in a little quicker. Just like at the airport, you know security is coming so be ready for it.
  2. Timings – It’s pretty common knowledge within the theatre world that most shows have a ‘latecomers point’. This means, if you arrive once the show has begun, you’ll be taken to a viewing screen until you’re able to take your seats. If this sounds a bit shit, the solution is simple, get there early! Go to the bar, explore the store or take a seat and scroll through Twitter. If timing is within your control, don’t be the one who has to awkwardly shuffle down a row to a symphony of shushing.
  3. Food & Drink – This isn’t the cinema, let’s skip the crunch of popcorn and rustle of packets for something a little less distracting. Recently, I’ve noticed just how loud a plastic water bottle can be. It’s 2019, why not try a reusable option like ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>this one?!
  4. PHONES/FILMING & PHOTOGRAPHY – I could honestly devote an entire post to this topic. Nothing is more infuriating as an audience member than being distracted by the bright lights of a phone. If it’s that important, step out of the auditorium. Not only is it a distraction for those around, you also look a total tit to the actors on stage who see your face lit up in all its Facebook obsessed glory. Turn it off and enjoy two hours of peace. And if you have the misfortune of being sat near someone on their phone, remember that you have every right to tell them where to shove it!
  5. Alcohol – I think this is the thing I found to be the biggest takeaway from The Stage article. As a country, we are particularly bad for binge drinking. Friday night comes around and everyone is ready to get on it. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this, but is the theatre really the place to be doing this? Personally, if I spend money on a ticket, I’d like to remember the plot. If alcohol makes you aggressive towards ushers or anyone else who is simply trying to make a living, it might be time to re-evaluate whether you should be drinking at all…
  6. Home Time –  By all means, go to the toilet, cloackroom etc on your way out. Do what you need to do. But spare a thought for those who work in the theatre and can’t go home until you do. From my supermarket days, I can tell you how frustrating it is to wait around for the last customer to leave.
  7.  Stage Door – I’ve seen so much debate surrounding this element of theatre recently. It’s a real shame when actors have to publicly ask for respectful behaviour at Stage Door. Utimately, you pay for a ticket to a show. There is no prerequisite for a meet and greet. Stage Door can be such a fantastic way for fans to connect with performers if it’s taken for what it is, an added bonus! Basic courtesy and understanding are key as is the respect for every performer who takes their time to say hello. Swings and ensemble are just as important as leads and deserve to be treated as such!!

I feel like this has been a theatrical rant of epic proportions. If you take one thing from this post, it’s this…Don’t be a dick. A night at the theatre should be a special occassion, one that leaves you with that amazing buzz. Yes the toilet queues may be long and the interval may be too short for you to smoke, drink and touch up your lipstick, but just enjoy the show for what it is and see everything else as the cherry on top.

Rant over!

Sophie

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The Wish List Revisited

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In this previous post, I listed out fifteen theatre shows I wanted to see in 2019. Now that we are half way through the year, it seems a fitting time to revisit the list!

I should begin by saying, since writing that post, I have actually taken on a job working at a theatre and in doing so, have limited my availability to Wednesday matinees and Sunday shows. Not particularly helpful when trying to tick off a whole host of shows but needs must…

So, where am I at? Well as of July, I have managed to see two out of the fifteen. These being Waitress and Come From Away. I could’ve given you a review of each but I didn’t and since there has now been a cast change for the former, it would feel a little outdated to do so. But seeing as this is an update, I will give you a quick run down of both.

WAITRESS

After the controversy of the cast change announcement, I booked a rush ticket via TodayTix to see the original West End cast. I had high expectations for the show and for sure the cast delivered on this. The stars of the show were of course Katharine McPhee, Marisha Wallace and Laura Baldwin. Three powerhouse voices playing well developed characters. Being honest, I felt a little underwhelmed by the time the interval arrived. With all the buzz about the show prior to its arrival on British soil, I’d been expecting great things and I wasn’t entirely sure that the show was resonating with us in the way that it had appeared to do so across the pond. However, the second act came around and the audience really seemed to lift. A flawless rendition of She Used to Be Mine by Kat McPhee completely stole the show. it honestly hit me that I’d have been happy to pay for a ticket just to hear her rendition of that song. Incredible. It is no surprise to hear that she received a 4-minute standing ovation for this at her final performance. Would I recommend this show? Yes, if you are a theatre fan and have a spare £20-£30 to spend.

COME FROM AWAY

There really are no words for just how amazing this show is. It seems impossible to fathom that such comfort and happiness could be produced from such a devastating  event. I think this show works because it shares the very real stories of passengers, pilots and Newfoundlanders alike. The skill in which this show has to take you on a constant journey of such contrasting emotions is like nothing I have ever witnessed before. It is simply stunning. Personally, I find that there are usually one to two songs within every musical that I would skip on Spotify. Come From Away defies this. You know you have a new favourite show when you immediately open the soundtrack upon exiting the theatre. If you see one show on the West End this year, make it this one!

Having unfortunately missed a couple of shows from my Wish List, I seriously need to get my act together!! I’m thinking next week will be the turn of Joseph for nostalgia purposes only. I’m going to need some convincing on this reimagining starring Sheridan Smith but having grown up listening to casette recordings *yes I’m old* of this show, I can never turn down the chance to watch it. I’m also hearing amazing things about Jesus Christ Superstar at the Barbican so let’s officially add that to the list in place of Noughts & Crosses, Small Island and A German Life which have all now sadly closed.

Have you seen any shows lately? Anything you would recommend? Let me know!

Sophie

 

Going It Alone

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To some, the thought of going to the Cinema alone seems proposterus. To me, it’s therapy.

A few years ago I decided that I wanted to be able to enjoy my own company in public, the only thing left on my checklist is having the balls to walk into a restaurant and ask for a table for one (not there yet). I set myself this goal to shake the social anxiety that comes with needing to have people around in order to enjoy life. It worked.

These days, I regularly go to the cinema alone of a quiet afternoon and I bloody love it! I can get there nice and early to watch the adverts without anyone complaining that they’re bored, I can see films like The Greatest Showman more than once and really just switch off from the outside world for a couple of hours. It’s lush.

It doesn’t stop at the cinema though, I’m also partial to a museum expedition. I will say at this point, it’s best to be savvy with timings in order to avoid masses of school trips. I found the British Museum to be an utter flop thanks to the large volume of young children being marched around in high vis jackets. They were totally bored due to the lack of interactive exhibitions and were acting up accordingly. Personally, I like to get there early and be done before the mid morning/early afternoon rush.It is particularly brilliant that the majority of museums in London are free, you can literally walk straight in to the Natural History Museum (do take the time to drop something into the donations box if you can).

One of the best things about independent expeditions is the people you meet. For my birthday last year, I went to see Hamilton. An older, very well dressed lady sat next to me and we got talking. She was Canadian with an excellent life story and a strong dislike of Donald Trump. We chatted politely before the show and during the interval and it was so interesting to learn about a total stranger whilst sharing a common interest of theatre.

More recently, I won a ticket to a Boots event. Whilst I was slightly anxious about heading in solo, it turned out to be an amazing experience, I left feeling so inspired and proud of myself for going. I really think it’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone every once in a while. I plan on writing a seperate blog post about this event but given my track record with blogging, don’t hold your breath!

The point is, being able to enjoy the things you love in your own company is so rare these days. In a social media obsessed age we seem to be unable to disconnect from the internet at all. Our phones have become an extended part of us. Take a look at your little finger, does it have a dent in the side? That’s the ‘Smartphone Pinky’. And to prove it, here’s a super legit, scientific article from the wonderful Daily Mail.

So if you’re wanting to give this a go, start with the cinema. My top tips are to pre book your ticket, go to an earlier showing where there will be less people and turn your phone off as soon as you sit down. Take a break from the world for a couple of hours and just enjoy your own company.

If you give it a go, let me know how you get on!

Sophie

The 2019 Wish List

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Last year was a good year for me in terms of getting to the theatre. I made the most of cheap deals and daily lotteries to see the likes of Heathers and Hamilton. This year, I’m hoping for more of the same with a few extra plays thrown in! Fifteen feels like a lot at the moment but no doubt this list will continue to grow and change.

So here is it is, my 2019 wish list…

Waitress – I don’t think I could create this list without putting Waitress on it. Currently starring Broadway superstar Katharine Mcphee, this show features music written by Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles.

Come From Away – I’m all for a show with an uplifting narrative and if the reviews are anything to go by, this is the show to beat for feel-good factor! One quick warning with this one, there is no intermission!

Six – The music, the lyrics, the female empowerment. I am so excited to see this show. No doubt it’ll inspire a return trip to Hampton Court Palace afterwards!

A German Life – As a self confessed history geek, this one woman show starring Maggie Smith is right up my street. Based on the testemonies of Brunhilde Pomsel, Joseph Goebbel’s secretary, this is bound to be a sell out when tickets drop on February 26th!

9 To 5 The Musical – I’m all about the Dolly tunes.

Only Fools and Horses – I have low expectations for this show but I often find that when you go in with little hope, you are pleasantly surprised.

Noughts & Crosses – I am beyong excited to watch this novel from my childhood be brought to life on stage. An important and gripping love story.

Tina – Featuring songs from her incredible back catalogue, this show follows the life of Tina Turner from Nashville to stardom.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Having seen this at The Rose Theatre a few years back, Shakespeare’s only made it onto the list because I’m keen to experience the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

& Juliet – With 5 Grammy Awards under his belt, alongside a plethora of number one singles, Max Martin has turned his hand to musical theatre. Starring Miriam-Teak Lee, this is set to be an exciting twist on Shakespeare’s famous love story.

Witness For the Prosecution – If you’ve ever completed a stint on a jury, you’ll know just how boring the reality of the entire process really is. I am confident that this show will be anything but and cannot wait to find myself watching a case unfold in London County Hall.

Les Misérables: The All-Star Staged Concert – For a limited time, the longest running show in the West End is moving down the road to the Gielgud Theatre. With a cast made up of some of the biggest names in Musical Theatre, this is sure to be a ticket for the memory box!

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat – This show will always hold a special place in my heart. Having grown up listening to an *admittedly bootleg* tape recording of Joseph, I’ve always secretly held a dream of one day playing the Narrator. Having last seen Lee Mead take on the iconic role, I’m looking forward to this new production.

Small Island – Landing at the National Theatre in late April, this show is an adaptation of the prize winning novel by Andrea Levy.

Dear Evan Hansen – I am the most excited for this show to land in the UK. With a soundtrack like no other and a message that has never been more relevant, I’m certain that this show will be a phenomenon.

Panto –  I’m not sure which one yet but I haven’t been to a panto since I was a young and have forgotten just how fantastically camp they can be. Recommendations welcome!

I’d love to hear what shows you’re all looking forward to catching this year!

 

 

 

Caroline, or Change

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Having seen Company the previous night, I had everything crossed that Caroline,or Change would come through for me and it certainly did.

I knew two things going into the Playhouse Theatre.

1.) Graham Norton had tweeted:

screen shot 2019-01-11 at 20.26.21

2.) There was going to be a singing washing machine…

Now, in my mind a singing washing machine evoked an image of a person with a painted up cardboard box flung over their head. This was not to be the case (thankfully). The way in which inanimate objects are given life in this show is brilliant yet somewhat bonkers.

It would in fact be fair to say that the show itself is rather unusual in its choices. Think Mighty Boosh vibes. For me, the moon was the weirdest element of the show, I can’t pretend to understand the involvement of the character but I enjoyed her quirkiness and vocal abilities nonetheless.

It is these vocal abilities that make Caroline, or Change so utterly fantastic. The entire cast deliver flawless performances with voices so beautiful I only wish there was a cast recording. Caroline, played by Sharon D Clarke is mesmerising. Whilst she plays a character who at times should be considered unlikeable to the audience, Sharon overpowers this with her stunning, soulful voice.

Now could I tell you the exact details of the show? No. At times, I felt I had to really choose which character to listen to as I experienced somewhat of a sensory overload. I’m not ashamed to admit it took me a while to connect the dots and realise this is in fact a story about change *I know, the idiocy isn’t lost on me either*. Set in Louisiana in the year 1963 we see Caroline struggle with the repetitive work of a maid in a time of great change in the country around her. I found the moments shared on stage with her daughter Emmie to be particularly moving and impactful.

You may have noticed, I’m not keen to go into too much detail about the show itself because a.) if you’re reading this you probably already have Caroline, or Change on your radar and b.) I personally feel this is a show in which you should go in with little expectation or idea of what it will be.

Once you settle in and get over the initial hit of eccentricity, you find a heartfelt story of family and opportunity performed by some of the best talent I have ever witnessed. So we can skim over the random clarinet playing and singing moon for the sake of a vocal performance of a lifetime from Sharon D. Clarke and her cast.

Parting Company

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I must admit, I’m slightly afraid to post this one.

As a Disclaimer, if you’re thinking I’m going to be bashing any specific names in the next few hundred words, I’m not. The individuals involved in this show were all extremely talented and more than worthy of their place on a West End stage.

I am however going to have to say it…I’m Sophie and I hated Company!

I hated Company so much that I left at the interval. I know this will anger some so let me explain my personal standpoint on leaving shows. I rarely do this, in fact this was only the second time I have ever done so in my entire life. Now, with theatre comes a certain set of unwritten rules. For instance, you would be well within your right to loudly tut a person bringing a burger in as a show snack. You would also be within your rights to boot the bright phone screen of the idiot in front out of their hands should they decide to whip it out at a pivotal moment! But leaving a show has always caused me a bit of conflict. So I kind of judge it by my seating i.e. if I’m front and centre, I ain’t leaving. In my opinion this would be impolite. That being said, I would agree with the viewpoint that it is my money and time and therefore I can make the decision to leave should I want to. And on this occasion, I really wanted to…

Naively, I didn’t do my research on this one. If I’m honest, I was led by the 5 star reviews and glamorous posters lining the escalators of London Vauxhall Station. Company is the show of the moment, the must have ticket and I wanted in.

It was a quick realisation of regret, a bit like when you take a risk on an online order only to discover that the trousers are see-through and it’s less of a camel toe and more like a hoof! *I’ve taken a risk there in assuming that Camels do in fact have hooves and not feet* From the opening number in which various cast members sang Bobbie over and over, I was underwhelmed.

Call me cliche, but I enjoy a musical in which I leave with at least one song stuck in my head and a feeling that I’ve learnt something or taken a message from somewhere. Company is abstract, there is no beginning middle and end (well maybe there is in the second half, you’ll have to let me know). Abstract art and I are like oil and water, we don’t mix *another fact based risk for you there*. I’m very aware that this is a trait shared by some and that others will absolutely love the lack of structure, the audience around me are proof enough that the show is a success to so many!

I suppose I wanted to share my thoughts as the overwhelming feeling I had when leaving was that I lacked culture or intellect in some way. Like I was at a dinner party with a table full of people talking politics in Russian. Like I was left waiting for the punchline when the rest were already in stitches. Company is a beautiful show visually, the staging is phenomenal and I have no doubt that the audience as a whole was feeling that special buzz, I just didn’t.

There is something to be said about the, for want of a better word, ‘snobbery’ that comes with theatre. The idea that more commercial shows are in some way lesser to the ‘classics’. I don’t like that. In my previous post, I mentioned that I believe there is a show for everyone. Theatre is there to entertain and excite. For two hours, you are transported away from your daily life with no distractions and given a story to take with you. It left me wondering, did anyone else in that audience feel the same way as I did and were they perhaps going along with the majority in order to feel accepted in some way? Perhaps not. But personally, I’ll be keeping away from Sondheim in the future and looking for something a little more uplifting.

…Oh and if you’re wondering, the other show I walked out of many years ago was the diabolical, Never Forget. *I like to think that Gary Barlow would have my back on that decision*

Cheap Tickets For the West End!

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January in the West End means cheap tickets. There are very few opportunities to bag yourself a ten pound ticket to Phantom or Les Mis but when the country is low on money, the seats still want selling!

Mum and I always like to take advantage of the amazing discounts on offer via Official London Theatre. (I thoroughly recommend taking a look if you are at all interested as there are still plenty of tickets available running through February.)

This year we left it a little last minute and so, on a whim, we decided upon 3 shows. Having already seen several of the ‘big hitters’ including Kinky Boots and Lion King, we settled on Company, Caroline, or Change and Matilda.

Three very different shows with three very different, perhaps controversial, reviews to follow!!

The New Year sale isn’t just for Musical Theatre fans, there are several plays to choose from on the list including the utterly phenomenal Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.  I was completely blown away by this show when I saw it a few weeks ago, from the staging to the acting, it was incredible. In fact so good that I feel it deserves a blog post all of its own!

There is a very outdated idea amongst many that theatre is overpriced and unreachable to the masses. This simply isn’t true. I found perspective in a recent trip to the cinema to the value of £18.25!! Obscene! Only justified by the fact that I was watching Mary Poppins Returns. In comparison, two decent seats in the Dress Circle for Caroline, or Change came to a total of £20.

I get it when people say that the theatre just isn’t for them, but I do believe that there is a show for everyone. A two hour experience in which that person finds some kind of connection. There is nothing like the post-show buzz that you just cannot get from a trip to your local Odeon.

If this post has inspired you to book a trip, a great site for good seats at affordable prices is todaytix.com. TodayTix offer daily lotteries to some of the biggest shows in the West End. I myself have been lucky enough to see Heathers, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Dreamgirls this way!

If you do decide to see a show, let me know, I always love hearing how different our experiences can be!