Some Thoughts on Theatre

Greetings from London! As I sit and type this (hopefully brief) blog post, I am sitting in a Covent Garden hotel surrounded by West End theatres. The purpose of my visit? To go to the theatre of course! It has struck me over this weekend just how incredibly lucky I am to be able to go to so much live theatre. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live in London, it’s not as simple as just strolling on over to a theatre and grabbing a ticket.

But, relatively speaking, I find theatre extremely accessible, if I plan in advance. And it was yesterday, after snow had stranded us at Watford Junction, meaning our original plan to go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour was scuppered, that we regrouped in the hotel and wondered how we could spend our wasted Sunday if we couldn’t get to the Studio Tour. A text came from my friend Liz’s dad, as he suggested trying to get return tickets for the Cursed Child play. As the snow had cut off so many people, return tickets were coming in thick and fast as people just couldn’t get into London to see the show. Half an hour later, after a rather reckless purchase, and we’d landed seats in the front row of the Grand Circle for both parts of Cursed Child. I realised very suddenly how incredibly lucky I was to be able to impulsively take that chance of offered tickets and get to see such a sought after play.

(By the way, the price of the tickets? Worth it. So incredibly worth it. The amount of effects and stage craft involved in the performance, let alone the actors themselves, is well worth the price of admittance. But I won’t say anymore because #KeepTheSecrets!)

On Saturday we went to see two long running West End musicals – Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, both of which were incredible, obviously. (Les Mis made me cry… again.) And tonight? We’ve somehow managed to score tickets for Hamilton. No I’m not entirely sure how we managed it and I won’t even believe it’s real until we’re in the room where it happens. But my point is, wow, it has been a theatre filled weekend and I bloody love theatre. Sometimes it helps to be reminded of that fact. Watching performances of any kind is just… astonishing, the amount of love and energy goes into each and every show has always amazed me.

But the beauty and the sadness in it is that it’s an ephemeral experience, you live it, and then it goes away and you can’t re-experience it unless you buy another ticket for another day, hopefully with the same cast but that’s not a given by any means. And the show is never the same, ever, audiences react in different ways, different beats are hit, sometimes something will strike a chord one night but not another. And then, maybe, the show will close and you can’t re-experience it again, for all the money in the world. There’s something devastating about that, but also something I adore about theatre.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see some of my favourite performers perform, without any way of reexperiencing that aside from my own (terrible) memory. I saw David Tennant and Tom Hiddleston perform Shakespeare (in the RSC’s Richard II and Donmar Warehouse’s Coriolanus respectively), something I never dreamed I’d get a chance to do, but I did, I was there! And I’m so incredibly grateful for that opportunity to buy tickets to see something so ephemeral.

However, trying to capture the essence of something that is so transitory, to tell a friend or family member, or to review it even, is more difficult that I ever thought it would be. Oh, I will try, undoubtedly I will write up reviews of everything I saw this weekend, but I know I will fall short because there’s something quite indescribable (for me, at least) about ephemeral things such as theatre. Maybe that’s the point, maybe that’s why we will gladly pay big bucks for tickets to things (whether sports games, plays, musicals, concerts), because that moment of realisation of ‘I’m really here and seeing this, this is so amazing, I can’t capture this moment, but I can live it and try to remember it’ weirdly puts you in the experience more than if you knew you could relive it easily. Basically, I bloody love theatre and this might very well be my ineloquent love letter to it.

I know this is a strange post, and probably contains little of value. I just had a ‘wow’ moment yesterday as I was watching Cursed Child and I had to try to work out some of my own musings via this blog. But still, do you like theatre and musicals? Do you often get to see shows or is it a once in a lifetime treat because of things such as location? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat theatre!

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19 responses to “Some Thoughts on Theatre”

  1. Love this post! I have to wait till June to see Hamilton (which seems a very long way away for my theatre-obsessed self at the moment) but count Harry Potter and The Cursed Child as one of the very best pieces of theatre I have seen! I wasn’t lucky enough to see Coriolanus live but did see the screening – just wondering if you have and if so how it compared to the live experience? :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awww thanks! Hamilton is absolutely worth the wait – I promise you that! :)

      I saw Coriolanus twice – once during the live streaming and once in-person, very different experiences and I’m actually super intrigued by the difference in atmosphere when you’re watching live-but-relayed plays. The live experience was obviously my favourite because I adore Tom Hiddleston’s acting so it was great to see that and be in the same room, you know? It’s a very visceral play and was extremely affecting, both in the room and watching the cinema broadcast. I liked the broadcast though because it allowed you to see close-ups of certain people’s reactions and I think it says something very interesting about which camera shot they chose i.e. which actors they chose to focus on during certain moments of the play.


  2. I’d love to see Les Mis again, and will definitely take more Kleenex with me. I took my dad to see it as a surprise birthday present. His reaction: “Why do I want to see a play about the French Revolution?” Classic!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love going to the theatre, it’s one of my favourite things to do! I’ve been incredibly lucky because I only live about an hour outside of London and there’s a direct train, that I’ve been able to go and see some amazing shows. I am so incredibly jealous that you got to see Hamilton, I’m dying to go! I could never afford it though, I’m hoping I might be able to convince my parents to get my friends and I tickets as a graduation present, but that’s still a year and a half away, so it won’t be with the original cast!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aaah, lucky! If I lived closer to London, I’d definitely spend all my money on tickets to shows, it’s probably a good thing I don’t have that temptation so close to me! Hamilton was such an incredible show, I’ve never been in an audience that was quite so enthralled or enthusiastic and, if you get the chance to grab a ticket, I’d absolutely recommend you go see it. I believe that they’re doing lotteries for cheaper tickets regularly, for the week ahead’s shows, so that might be an opportunity if you’re able to travel into London on short notice!


  4. I am always listening to musical soundtracks and Encore Radio is probably one of my most played radio stations at the minute! However, I’ve only been able to see two shows – Mamma Mia at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, and The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. The last one sounds epic but it disappointed me a little because I really struggled following the story and it was obviously a quiet show day as there was hardly anyone in the theatre, rendering the whole atmospheric experience mediocre. I think I went at the time Wicked had become huge so everyone was flocking to that instead.
    If I had the means to see a show again, I would love to see one of the Disney musicals (of course!), Hairspray, or The Sound of Music. I can guarantee there are more but these are the ones at the top of my head at the moment. Added on to that, I’m also intrigued to see what Footloose is like with Joanne Clifton because I see fabulous reviews whenever I’m flicking through Twitter.

    I just wish theatre would be a more accessible interest for me. I love listening to musical soundtracks or Encore Radio but it is not the same as being able to go to a theatre and see the show. Living far away from any theatres and not being able to afford the high ticket prices sucks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I rely on touring productions since I live in North Carolina. Seeing a musical live is more fun than watching a musical movie. There is nothing like the power of live theatre. I love listening to musical soundtracks as well. So glad touring productions exist or I would be seeing less musicals. I have seen really amazing musicals over the years

      Liked by 2 people

      • The only way I got to see Mamma Mia was because it was a touring production and was playing in Manchester (one of my nearest cities). The thing is though, I’m always looking for the d/Deaf accessible shows so that I might be able to take my sister with me because I know she would love to see some of the Disney productions too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, it really sucks being away from where theatres are based! :(

        I consider myself lucky that I recently moved to a city which gets quite a few of the touring shows and London isn’t too difficult for me to get to if I plan months ahead to get cheaper transport options.

        What was your favourite touring production you saw? :)


        • Hmmm, tough question. I really do not know.

          I cannot even get easy access to NY and I only been in NY once so I only saw one musical on Broadway at the age of 12, which was Wicked. I live even further away from London so I was lucky I got to see Les Mis in the West End. Those two musicals are at the moment neck in neck tied for best musical, where I both saw on tour and in a huge theatre districts

          Liked by 1 person

    • Awww no, that’s SUCH a shame about Phantom being a bit of a let-down on Broadway. Truth be told, when I went to New York a couple of months ago, I went to see it too and it was a bit of a frustrating experience for me too because I was a newbie to the show and was trying to concentrate on the words/story but the audience was SO loud and kept rustling and it ruined the overall experience.

      I hope you get to see one of the Disney musicals, Hairspray, or The Sound of Music soon, location and funds willing! It just so happens that Hairspray is touring next year so that might be an opportunity?? I’m going to see it in Liverpool because me and a friend managed to get cheap tickets and I’ve never seen it live so I couldn’t say no.

      I really hope you get to have the chance to see more of your favourite musicals in the future, it really is such a privilege to be able to do so. :)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was a newbie to the show as well, and I went to see it with friends who’d all seen it before. It got completely lost on me, and it didn’t help that our seats were so far back from the stage that I couldn’t see what was going on.

        I’ll have to take a look at Liverpool because for me, it is either there or Manchester. It would be nice to finally see a show though, and one that is fully accessible!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I love going to see musicals. I have been seeing them live since elementary and most of them I saw through tour. I live in North Carolina so it is hard to get to New York to see musicals. Newsies, Wicked, Pippin, Les Mis, Phantom of the Opera, Annie, and Sound of Music were musicals I saw on tour and loved all of them. Wicked, I first experienced on Broadway and that was how my love for musicals was sparked. Les Mis, whose journey began with the movie, was seen live five times including once in the West End. My blog is a musical theatre themed blog and it really shows just how much I love musicals. There is so much to see like spectacle, dance, romance, comedy, positive and negative emotions and strong emotional connections

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, that’s SUCH a good list of musicals you’ve been able to see on tour!

      I adore Les Mis, it’s probably my favourite musical of all-time and seeing it again in London was just so wonderful and reminded me why I love it so much. I’m going to see Wicked when it tours the UK next year and I’m so excited, I don’t really know what to expect but I’ve heard such good things and of course the soundtrack is so sing-along-worthy that I can’t wait to see it staged professionally. :)


      • I have been going to the theatre since elementary school.

        But my first memory is seeing Wicked on Broadway, but all I remember from that time was who I was with and what my favorite song was, but the impact clearly shows throughout all those years. Wicked is spectacular, magical, and Ozian: so the beautiful story of friendship is so powerful and the quite complex love triangle strengthens it in so many ways

        Liked by 1 person

    • Wow that’s such a cool experience to have! :)

      I’ve never been involved in theatre in any capacity, but I sometimes wish I’d had the self-confidence to join in when I was younger because I LOVE going to the theatre now.


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