We stayed at the Thistle Hotel at Lancaster Gate, which overlooks Hyde Park. We were on the fifth floor facing the park, so we had a lovely view in spite of the slightly gray weather. It’s surprising how well-priced it was; it was less than we’ve paid at hotels in smaller cities back in the US. Plus, it was a four-star hotel in an excellent location, with tons of room, considering where it was. And a bed! Craig and I have been sleeping on the sectional at his parents, and it was just so nice to be able to stretch out next to him on Friday night. Ah, the little thing in life… :)
So, we got into the city in plenty of time to have dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant and then head up to see Les Miserables. I didn’t want a program, but at intermission, I made Craig go and buy one simply because I needed to know who it was I was seeing. I’m sad that way.
Now, Les Miz…I think it’s safe to say this is my favorite musical ever. I’ve now seen it 9 times over the past 15 years---once in London, 5 times in NYC, and 3 times in Detroit with various touring companies. I own three different CD sets of it---the original London cast, the original Broadway cast, and the complete symphonic---and have listened to it so much that I know the music (as it’s recorded) backward and forward. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some amazing people perform in it, including the original Enjolras (Michael Maguire) and Gary Morris (who does Valjean in the complete symphonic, that’s who I saw the very first time I ever saw the show), and really have to buy the Royal Albert Hall recording some time soon. You’d think I’d be sick of it by now, but Friday night proves that it still gets to me. Les Miz is the only show I’ve ever seen to reduce the most stalwart of men to sobbing by the time he walked out of the theater. It also has one of my favorite lines ever: “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
I have my own problems with the show. Cosette is one of the most insipid characters I’ve ever seen, and Marius is a blind prat. But I adore Enjolras and Eponine, and Javert remains one of my favorite characters ever.
This cast, however, probably won’t rank as one of my favorites. The supporting ensemble was amazing; I was transfixed during the chain gang intro. Then, Valjean opened his mouth.
Probably the worst Valjean I’ve ever heard. I’m sorry, but the role should not be talk-sung. It’s not like this guy *couldn’t* sing; in the parts where he *did* sing, it was quite good. He just chose not to, for whatever reason. It got really annoying after awhile. But then, in the second act, he stopped it. He actually made “God on High” not so awful.
Thankfully, the supporting cast made up for it. Fantine and Eponine were lovely, and Enjolras was good, though a little thinly voiced. Marius had a powerful voice, but was probably the gayest Marius I’ve ever seen. I’m sorry, but solo pirouettes while you’re professing how much you love the girl you’ve just met, all the while grinning like a young Tony Blair? Nope. Doesn’t work for me.
Still, by the time Eponine dies, I was crying, and I was suitably teary for the rest of the show. I was quite pleased with it by the time we walked out.
Saturday morning, we slept in and headed off to the London Eye. psubrat and I had hoped to do it last Halloween, but her bad back, and me getting sick put a kibosh on that. Craig and I had bought Fast Track tickets for 11am, but when we got there at 10:40 (after a gorgeous walk across Hyde Park), Craig looked at the receipt and saw that he’d actually booked for 10:30. It didn’t matter, as it turned out. We got straight on (and boy did that beat queueing), and had a lovely ride. Wonderful views and I highly recommend it to anyone. Craig got pictures but I haven’t downloaded any of them. Hopefully, they turned out nicely.
We headed to Leicester Square then. We’d decided to wing it in regards to a show on Saturday. See what was selling for half-price in Leicester and take it from there. Well, when we got there, Craig saw something posted called “Acorn Antiques.” He immediately started getting excited, and dragged me over to Haymarket to see if he could see some details on it. When I asked him why, he said the only thing he’d ever heard called Acorn Antiques was a series of skits that Victoria Wood had written, and he wanted to know if they were related. He loves Victoria, who, for my American friends, is a very, very funny English comedienne. Acorn Antiques had been a spoof of the daytime soaps, if they were done very, very poorly, with swinging backdrops, missed entrances, over-acting, and all the like.
Well, the show *was* connected to the show. It had Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, and Duncan Preston reprising their roles, as the actors reuniting years later to do a new musical based on the show. Craig decided that was that, and we bought the last tickets for the matinee show (the evening show was sold out).
I haven’t laughed that hard at anything in ages. I’d never heard of the skits prior, but Craig gave me just enough of an overview to pick up on the jokes that I would’ve otherwise missed. The cast also included Josey Lawrence and Neil Morrissey. I *adore* Josey; I got to see her in a play with Felicity Kendall a few years ago. And Neil always cracks me up. Julie and Celia were absolutely fantastic. So, so funny. Victoria was spoofing all the big musicals in the West End throughout the whole thing, and with Trevor Nunn directing, when they did the whole piss-take of the barricade scene in Les Miz, I was practically wetting myself from laughing so hard.
We had to go buy the Acorn Antiques DVD after we walked out of the show. Craig wants to get some Victoria Wood DVD’s, too, but we couldn’t find the one he really wanted. We’re going to get that one from Amazon, we think.
The rest of the night was spent at the hotel. I don’t need to tell you what we did. Without kids and high from laughter, Craig and I had a *lot* of energy to expend. ;)
Sunday was quieter. Time spent together, dinner, and a movie (The Interpreter). All around, a wonderful time. Reminds me of why I married this man in the first place. Thank you to everyone for the well wishes. We ended up not bothering to hook up the laptops, because, surprise surprise, we had other things to do instead. So, now I’m off to read e-mail and read through pages of LJ. I hope everyone else had as good a weekend as I did. :)