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Go to London, See a Show

May 3rd, 2017 · No Comments · London, tourism, Travel

That is what a person does. You go to London, you eventually make your way over to the West End and settle in at one of those grand old theaters and let someone sing and dance at you for two or three hours.

We carried out that plan perhaps too aggressively.

Starting from the Montpellier airport we went through the usual suffering on leg-room-is-for-losers QueasyJet and landed at Gatwick, south of London at about 5. We checked no bags but still needed a half hour to get through immigration and customs. Then it was another half hour on the Gatwick Express, into Victoria Station in London, followed by a cab ride to the southside hotel, and our chances of making a 7:30 curtain were starting to dim.

We got Underground directions from the front desk of the expensive little/old hotel (all London hotels are expensive), and were outside the Dominion Theater (opened in 1929 as a movie theater) after five subway stops (and one change).

We went through security (terror is not unknown, in London) and joined the queue for purchasing tickets, got those for 29 pounds (about $37 dollars under the more favorable post-Brexit exchange rates) and were in our soft seats 10 minutes before curtain. Too easy.

We saw An American in Paris, which is based on the 1951 movie of the same name which, in turn, was based on the 1928 symphonic poem (of the same name) by George Gershwin.

The current play features several themes from Gershwin’s piece, with lyrics added by his brother Ira, some other Gershwin songs snatched from other work — and adds some clever scenery and wardrobe flourishes.

Mostly, though, it is about dancing. Madcap, nearly nonstop dancing, led by Robert Fairchild, a GI turned Parisian artist, who spends most of three hours spinning or lifting or leaping, with a high level of grace, even for a principal of the New York City Ballet.

It is fair to wonder how Fairchild gets through a show without spraining or snapping something. Well, actually, you wonder it for just about everyone in the cast.

(Also, dancers … when they do the same routines in every show, does it get dull? Is it enough to get paid for dancing, or would it be more fun if you didn’t do the same exact dance numbers night after night? Is it the artistic cousin of assembly-line work? Just wondering.)

The Gershwin tunes, familiar to many of us on the high side of age 50, give the show some familiarity and provide some of the structure for what is otherwise a fairly flimsy plot.

With intermission pushing the show to three hours, the patience of some of the viewers was tested; some left during the break.

I liked it. As The Guardian’s review put it: The show “not only offers an eclectic range of Gershwin songs but is also a riot of color and movement”.

So, out into the London night where even on May 3 the mercury could not stay on the high side of 50 degrees Fahrenheit under the thick layer of clouds, a bit of snack (to take the place of dinner) at an all-night diner a block away, and back to the hotel, getting lost only once. OK, twice.

Tomorrow, a museum and another musical. As one does, in London.



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