Last week I headed back to my fave place, London, for a wee birthday trip with my mum. We were super excited about this trip because we had finally booked to see shows in venues like the National and the Royal Opera House where we have toured in the past but never actually watched a show. This’ll be a long one because we managed to fit so many things into our trip, but enjoy!
I’m always looking for stagey things to do (because I’m a big ol’ theatre dork) so when you say bar, musical theatre themed cocktails and a plethora of theatrical memorabilia, I’m there. The Phoenix Artist Club is tucked in behind the Pheonix Theatre and it is super cool, there are so many fun things to look at it’s basically a museum. We went for pre theatre dinner where the menu is set out into Act 1 and Act 2 and dessert is the curtain call. Speaking of cocktails, I had a ridiculously sweet Emerald City and a lovely One SIP More (prosecco and gin? What more could you want?) and mam had a Trunch’s Sour (à la Matilda). The food was pretty nice but what makes it amazing is the surroundings. They also have open mic nights and the like so I think it would be cool to hang out there in the evening after all the actors (and actors who work FOH) get off the clock and sing for you, for free!
Then we headed to the gorgeous Theatre Royal Drury Lane for 42nd Street! My god, what a show this is. It truly is the epitome of spectacle. The show is on such a big scale, I can’t explain how thrilling it is to see a 30-40 strong ensemble perfectly tap dancing in time whilst singing harmonies, it sent all the shivers up my spine! The design of the production is just beautiful and those costumes are dazzling. It has quickly jumped into my favourite shows list as it is the perfect full scale, razzle dazzle, old school, broadway musical. I don’t know what else to say other than to gush about every aspect of this show, other than it reminded me how much I want to be awesome at tap dancing. I’m in love.
Completely unlike myself, I had a day in London with nothing at all planned until the evening. So what spontaneously happened? We started with an impromptu visit up to the British Museum because it was literally 5 minutes away from our hotel. I’ll be real here, despite its grandeur and high profile exhibits, I found it pretty disappointing. There were far too many groups of school children roaming around for me to feel relaxed and the exhibition map is so confusing that you don’t really know where to begin. It’s says a lot that my highlight of the museum was just the general foyer architecture. So I don’t think I would be shouting for anyone to check it out. We then scooted down to Covent Garden and had a lovely pub lunch Marquess of Anglesey.
After this we headed over the river to the South Bank and hit up the Tate Modern. The thing is, I wouldn’t call myself and expert or fan of modern art, but my goodness do I find it entertaining! So maybe I don’t understand the deeper meaning of this random blank canvas worth thousands but I like the amusement I get from the fact that people do hype that sort of stuff and for that reason I totally recommend the Tate. You can spend a while walking around andd going ‘what?’ – and between that there are some nice things to look at. It has plenty of free exhibits in there to entertain you for an hour or two.
In the evening we had a lush dinner at Wahaca right on the South Bank by the Thames (which would be the best place to hang on a hot summer day) and you can fight me if you think sweet potato is better prepared anywhere else. P.s. the tamarind margarita is delicious.
Then it was time for Amadeus at the National Theatre. This is a play about Mozart and his competitor at the time Salieri. Of course, the orchestra was stunning and as always it was an NT production that was vast, gorgeous and fully engaging. I loved seeing a show in the legendary Olivier theatre and this was a powerhouse of a play for me to pop my NT cherry with. It’s a really interesting story to consider what life was like in those times and to see that semi-accurate biography of events unfold from the psychology of a prodigal genius and how infuriating that was for the hard workers in the field at the time to be eclipsed by a natual prodigy. In some ways it almost felt similar to how Burr feels about Hamilton and how naturally everything seems to come to him, his frustration against his own perceived mediocrity (but maybe I’m just obsessed with Wait For It at the moment). 10/10 would recommend.
After the show we met one of my lovely Rock Challenge pals who lives in London for a catch-up and he brought us to Gordon’s Wine Bar just off of Trafalgar Square which is an absolute cave but totally adorable and I could live in that cave forever with all the wine.
Our Saturday matinée made my childhood dreams come true. I finally got to witness the Royal Ballet company in person as they performed the stunning Giselle. The Royal Opera House is such a breathtaking theatre, you can never get bored of looking at that classic auditorium. My mum and I were frugal when we booked these tickets and were actually sitting on opposite sides of the balcony because it was cheaper, we both had a really great view and it’s not like you speak to anyone during the performance anyway. Giselle is such a lovely, romantic show and the two acts contrast so much, I am particularly in love with the surrealism magic of act 2 and those iconic corps routines were beautiful. I have no better word for the Royal Ballet than perfection.
That evening, I had the best dinner at a place called Duck and Waffle Local just off of Leicester Square so it’s super convenient when you’re in the centre of town. I had these gorgeous pork bao buns then a ridiculously delicious duck burger. Would definitely recommend and as a duck lover, I’m gonna be dreaming about that meal for a while…
Our final show of the weekend was the hilarious The Book of Mormon, which was everything I dreamed of and more. It is so hilarious and I loved hearing the audience being caught off guard by all the punch lines because they haven’t listened to the soundtrack on repeat like I have… I didn’t expect there to be as much dancing in the show but they were so extra I loved it, especially Turn It Off. I have a bit of a soft spot now for the actor who played Elder McKinley as he was just so captivating and hilarious. My other highlights were Man Up and I Believe. Such a great musical and so so funny, I would definitely recommend.
This was an absolute banger of a long weekend – every show was so different but so perfect in their own ways, which is why I can’t pick a favourite. It was super interesting and refreshing to have such a contrast between a classic musical, contemporary drama, classic ballet and contemporary musical theatre. All that plus some great food and greater company, I’m a satisfied lil’ chicken. Until next time London, I love you x