Posted by: krisinhawaii | May 14, 2008

So many shows…so little time.

OK–I spent today working HARD trying to catch up (and did) but also off and on filled with MAJOR regret that I didn’t do more and see more when in London last month. Especially when it came to the West End shows. I know it is pointless to fret….but really…these are the real thoughts that went through my mind today! When I think of it I realize how little time we had and how much there was to do.. you just cannot do it all. Yo Londoners who happen to be reading… go, take the Tube to Leicseter Square, and go to any half-price ticket booth to take advantage of seeing those great shows for cheap, its soooo worth it!! You are so lucky!

Had I known the treat I was in for, I think if I had to do again, would have gone to see at least three other West End shows… It wasn’t that expensive, it was very reasonable to see a first rate show as long as you took your chances on same day tickets…you could get them for half price. you really could… all the major shows playing too in the most fantastical theatrical venues you can imagine… Oh the REGRET now that I am sitting here in Hawaii looking at my piles of laundry and long list of things to do!!!! 😉 The Lion King, Les Miz, Wicked, Cabaret!! What I missed—-The regret!!!!!!!!! Someone wrote in on a Phantom blog that seeing the show on the London stage where it debuted was alone worth the price of airfare to London, and I agree!!!! I’d see Phantom again too! Sob, I’m miserable about not doing all I could do… AND not paying a little more for better seats, but I had no idea it was going to be so awesome!

I don’t care if Ian hates the Phantom and ALW, (he says musicals are over-rated and are the “devil’s spawn,” and especially detests Andrew Lloyd Webber) I loved, loved, loved the whole experience and realize now I could have done more in the way of seeing shows— they were all there for the taking!!… I know, I know…I had a 12-year-old boy with me and I could only do so much, right? But he was great at Phantom and loved it. Chris said today he would have gladly gone to more shows with me. Especially Lion King. Should I make another trip to London alone and just spend all the time there seeing shows??? Should I??? Maybe in the win ter next year… There’s also the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden… there wasn’t really much going on while I was there and I had Chris or I would have gone. At least we got to see Carlos sing on the Underground.

Look at this piece about Phantom.. it says there has never been a seat unsold in 8000 performances!!! :

The Phantom of the Opera opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre on 9 October 1986 withMichael Crawford and Sarah Brightman in the leading roles and there have been sixteen productions worldwide since then.

The Phantom of the Opera is the jewel in the crown of the Really Useful Group’s copyrights. In London there has never been a seat unsold, and the musical has achieved in excess of 99% of potential capacity wherever it has been presented. It has been seen in 119 cities in 24 countries and played to over 80 million people. The box office gross world-wide stands at over £1.7billion – the box office revenues are higher than any film or stage play in history, including “Titanic”, “ET” and “Star Wars” Awards include the Laurence Olivier and Evening Standard Award for Best Musical and seven Tony Awards.

Posted by: krisinhawaii | May 12, 2008

Carlos.

Chris and I discovered this fantastic baritone while in London. When Chris heard him, he said “Mama, I want to hear more singers like this.” The closest I could get to opera was Phantom….Hear more of wonderful Carlos here.

… a baritone voice that has an innate natural intelligence, exudes sincerity and is responsive to the text. Cogul sings with an earnest charm and simplicity – there’s a dusky quality to the mid-range and an easy bloom at the very top… look out for Cogul on the opera stage” OPERA NOW

Posted by: krisinhawaii | May 12, 2008

All alone at night on the escalator at Knightsbridge….

This is the same escalator Chris and I each pulled our luggage down to get on the train to Heathrow on the morning we left. Although it is not the longest one on the Tube, it’s long enough… Luckily it was so early in the morning very few commuters were around.

Posted by: krisinhawaii | May 8, 2008

Some pub tales….

I just loved all the pubs and pub stories from London… and for your amusement, I retell a few of them below. Also there’s more in this book we found…. If Chris had been about five years older, we could have gone to any pub at any hour! As I learned however, he was welcomed in some places and not others, even if they were serving food all day. There were also walking pub tours which would have been great to go on too. Sometimes while out with the locals, I’d point out what I thought was a cool looking pub, and they’d say, “Oh no, Kris, that’s a dive, you don’t want to go in there!”

Who can tell the difference!? They all seemed quaint to me and bristling with history! And it seems like quite a few of them had a violent, or more specifically, “headless” components to their histories. Shiver!! In addition to the stories below, click on the picture (left) for a larger version and to read more colorful tales of pubs.

The Bow Tavern…
This now demolished pub on St. Giles High Street was where condemned prisoners stopped for their last pint of ale on their way from Newgate Prison to Tyburn Gallows (now Marble Arch) . If the executioner rode on the same cart, he was not allowed a drink… hence the phrase ‘on the wagon.’

Hand & Shears Tavern, Middle Street, Cloth Fair
Prisoners had their cases heard upstairs and if the judgment went against them, they were allowed a drink at the bar on their way to the gallows…

Ship & Blue Ball
Boundary Road
The Great Train Robbery was planned here in the ’60s, and a false wall in the games room concealed the stolen millions.

Hoop and Grapes 47 Aldgate Ave. High Street

Thirteenth century inn, the oldest non-ecclesiastical building in the city.

Old Nun’s Head, Nunhead Green
The inn stands on the site of a nunnery which was demolished during the Reformation. The abbess was decapitated and her head displayed on a pole….!!! (emphasis added!!)

I LOVE all this stuff. And do I need to say I loved the ales? This is a photo of me from my trip in 2005, in a pub with some of my English friends… toasting a pint of STOUT. (Half-pints and lagers are for wusses!) Hmm, if I remember correctly, I think that was my second that night? Or maybe third? Cheers!!

Posted by: krisinhawaii | May 2, 2008

More on Phantom and Her Majesty’s Theatre.

I’ve been googling info about this theatre, which not surprisingly, has its own resident ghost. Hard to find shots of the interior, but here’s one. Also a shot at night of the outside. I guess the name changes according to the gender of the reigning monarch.  Then, for Phantom fans, there’s this site. Apparently the Phantom in our show is only 28, the youngest ever to play the role. Stats also say Phantom is the leading entertainment event in history in terms of box office takes. I have seen the film (funnily enough on the plane flight coming home from my 2005 trip to London.)  It didn’t make a great impression, but how could it?  Well that’s about it for this blog, if I get our videos up on You Tube I’ll post this weekend.

Posted by: krisinhawaii | May 1, 2008

All good, fun things must come to an end….

We’re back in Hawaii, and after a few days adjusting to that foggy jet-lagginess (that tended to come on worse at night with both of us for some reason) it’s back to business as usual. Chris has missed two weeks of school and now comes the really hard part of trying to help him catch up. For those regular readers of my blog, that stream-of-consciousness babble known as wireless lanai you may return now. (It’s a blog I started for my last trip to Europe in 2005 and continuing daily with a tedious play-by-play of my so-called life. (uninvited souls will find it locked… Email me or comment if you want permission to read… had to lock it so that I wouldn’t embarrass myself in front of clients or attract stalkers, which did happen when it was open). Glad to leave this rubbish WordPress behind… it really stinks as a blog hosting site. I tried to upload our movies, but the format wasn’t acceptable, and I’ve been too lazy to put them on YouTube.

It’s a very long trip to England and back. You can factor in two full days of travel time, both coming and going. I must say, however, Chris was a trooper and most of the time steeped up to the plate when I needed him to. This means he pulled his luggage without complaining, up and down stairs and escalators to the Underground. Even when we arrived at Heathrow after no sleep for 24 hours plus…and had to get on our direct Piccadilly line to Central London, he did his share pulling his own suitcase… and helped me when it was time to JUMP on the train quickly with said heavy luggage. He also walked and walked and walked and walked with me and my friends without complaining (well hardly)… all around London. Despite the easy access and cheap fares on the Tube, and buses you still have to walk ALOT… and it is a little deceptive HOW far underground you are going to get on the trains. (lots of stairs but they wind around so you don’t realize how many stairs you are taking). I don’t know the depth at which the Tube trains operate, but I do know it’s very very far underground. While Chris had a few squirrely moments and sometimes got embarrassingly silly or obnoxious, for the most part, he was really really great and rose to the occasion. Bravo Dude!!!

Posted by: krisinhawaii | April 28, 2008

Our looooooooooong way home.

This was taken yesterday (?) morning at Heathrow…We’re now in a SF motel 8 overnighting… here are a few final photos. We got the first train from Knightsbridge to Heathrow. No more cabs for us, it was easy to take the Tube in. Since I already had an Oyster card, Chris’s fare was 50P 9 ($1.00) We slept as soon as we got here and woke up at three.. We are now, outta here!! A great trip, long haul back to Hawaii…and back to reality…

long way home. 4/28/08 4:32 AM
Posted by: krisinhawaii | April 28, 2008

Saturday, April 25….Phantom of the Opera.

Sorry we are so late in posting… Saturday was our last full day and we decided to hit Leicester Square early (well early for us–10AM) and try our luck at standing by for half price (so they say) same-day theatre tickets…The tickers above the counters were reading “Phantom from £18.50…Lion King from £24, Les Mis from £20… ” Signs were all around, advertising the same…Sounds good, right? But because there were so many places to get same day tickets, and so many tourists around, I worried we were going to get to the counter and have them say “Oh sorry, we only have £60 seats left in the top circle…” Much to our delight, however, that wasn’t the case and we got decent seats for £24.50, including the booking fee and credit card fee… I was really happy with that, and later heard that Phantom tickets are quite hard to get. Considering it was a matinee and a Saturday, I was happy with that…

We found a fish & chips place to eat before hand…Our show started at 2:30 so we went to find the theatre, which you can see in the photos.

Once the show started, I was almost in shock… I knew from the first second it was going to be dazzling…but how can I even describe this? There are not even words…the art direction, lighting, sparkling costumes, fantastic singing and dancing…all top of the line…INCREDIBLE… I have seen lots and lots of musicals in my day in lots of place, but I have never in my life seen anything that measures up to this. The whole first act was mesmerizing… Chris’s first words when they first raise the chandilier were ” Oh Mama.. the visual effects in this are awesome!” It was gorgeous, magnificent and totally fabulous…to see this show performed on the London stage, in a 19th century theatre…I am speechless…and Chris was not bored or squirmy at all, how could anyone be? !!! I savored every second, I did not want it to end. I think if we had seen this show any earlier, I would have been addicted to going to shows, and might well have had to see them all.

So here’s my last big photo album… with photos of the West End, Leicester Square, the theater before and after the show, a few inside (illegally shot)… There were so many highlights about the trip, but this was definitely the best for me. Here’s a bit of the history of the theatre:

The current theatre is actually the 4th theatre to occupy this site: The first, called The Queen’s Theatre, was built by Sir John Vanbrugh and opened on 9 April 1705 – when theatre changed its name to The Kings Theatre in 1714 when King George I ascended the throne. This theatre was associated with opera from the early 1910’s until 1789 when the theatre was destroyed by fire.

The second theatre was designed by designed by Michael Novosielski and opened in March 1791. This theatre was again associated with opera, aswell as ballet. It was here that some of Mozart’s opera were first presented in London – La Clemenza de Tito in 1806, Cosi fan Tutti in 1811 and Don Giovanni in 1816. Between 1816 and 1818 alterations were made to the auditorium and facades by John Nash and George Renton who also added the Royal Opera Arcade which runs along the rear of the theatre and still stands today. In 1837 the name of the theatre was changed to Her Majesty’s Theatre, Italian Opera House when Queen Victoria ascended to the throne.

The ‘Italian Opera House’ part of the name was subsquently dropped in 1847. Then, in December 1867, the theatre was once again destroyed by fire. The theatre was then rebuilt in 1869, this time designed by Charles Lee, although the theatre remained dark until 1875 when once again opera was mostly presented here. In 1892 the theatre was demolished, leaving just the Royal Opera Arcade.

The current, and fourth, theatre on this site was designed by C J Phipps and opened 28 April 1897. Now mostly plays were presented here, with just the occasional opera. Then in 1916 Chu Chin Chow started a record breaking run of 2,238 performances. In 1929 Noel Coward’s Bitter Sweet was produced here and enjoyed a run of 697 performances. After the Second World War the theatre mostly presented musicals which included Brigadoon in 1949, Paint Your Wagon in 1953, West Side Story in 1958 and Fiddler On The Roof in 1967 which had a run of 2,030 performances. The current production, the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Charles Hart musical Phantom of the Opera opened here on 9 October 1986. Renovations took place of the dome and exterior in 1992, and of the interior in 1994.

And some more about the show: With some of the most lavish sets, costumes and special effects ever to have been created for the stage, The Phantom of The Opera is a haunting musical which traces the tragic love story of a beautiful opera  singer and a young composer shamed by his physical appearance into a shadowy existence beneath the majestic Paris Opera House. Adapted from Gaston Leroux’s classic novel of mystery and suspense, this award winning musical has woven its magical spell over audiences in over 60 cities worldwide.

Last day///Phantom 4/28/08 4:21 AM
Posted by: krisinhawaii | April 25, 2008

Carnaby Street, Oxford Circus & Regent Street.

FRIDAY, APRIl 25–Well, our trip out to Bath today was a no go. Why? …. a.) because our discount National Rail card only works on the Southeast train system, and b) you have to book two hours in advance and c.) Because we couldn’t get our over-tired booties out of bed in time, and it was almost 11AM before I got working on the plan so it was too late and we had to abort. So instead, we headed out to Hyde Park… then took the Tube to Oxford Circus, and from there walked through Carnaby Street (world famous in the 1960s as the center of London’s fashion scene) with its interesting pubs, funky boutiques and cobblestone alleyways. Regent Street, which borders it, is busy and bustling.

About mid-day, Chris threw a bit of a tantrum so I’d be persuaded to buy him a bag of the choose-your-own candy they have here… (in his defense, he has been a real trooper this whole trip, and has walked miles and miles without complaining, so he’s entitled to whine a little bit, right?) and we came to a compromise…I’d go back and get him the candy if he’d come into this fabulous pub (left) with me and have a coke while I had a pint. As it turned out, I didn’t have enough change to buy him the candy (what “CHANGE?” It came to £2.74…almost $6.00USD!!! For a little bag of candy??!!!) so I used his money… and then the minute we walked in the pub they threw us out (even tho’ they were serving food, they told me children weren’t allowed until 5:00PM, and it was only 4:00!)… so we decided to hit the Tube and I let him plan out his own route… and he takes us all the way up to Canary Wharf on a joyride, (and because he said he wanted to give me the chance  to get another gander at all those great looking guys walking around the financial district)… but we forgot it was getting to be 5PM on a Friday…yes, being the Kona country mice that we are, we forgot there is such a thing as a rush-hour commute… and we were caught in the worst of it, changing lines three or four  times to get back to Piccadilly… Chris was scrunched in a little ball, crouching down on the floor almost the whole way home on every change of train. I would have taken a picture, had I had the room to get the camera out of my bag, but I was equally as scrunched up. Whew, glad to get off the train and get out into the fresh air again!

Is a trip to London complete without taking in a West End show? No! So we’re going to see Phantom of the Opera tomorrow. We hope… now, the above is not as posh and fancy as it sounds, because a.) we’re going to a matinee, and b.) you can get cheap tickets (£10) on the day of the show from the half price ticket place and if we can’t get into that one, we’ll take whatever we can get… Our last day is tomorrow… our trip is winding down!

Below is the album of photos from today… I know my mom and Amy are probably the only two to look through the entire album. But if you are brave and want to look through them, set it on “Slideshow” so you can see them bigger. Good thing I have my camera because I can’t seem to write a cohesive sentence anymore. Hopefully it’s just temporary dementia, because next week I have to go back to writing for a living!

Carnaby Street, Canary Wharf.etc. 4/25/08 10:38 PM
Posted by: Chris Jones | April 25, 2008

Parkish…

We woke up earlier than usual and went to hyde park to walk around. After that we went to Carnaby Street to Look. Phyllis took us to a great pub nearby our house. (‘crawling’ distance). They had excellent food

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