Saturday, September 01, 2012

"Let's all go down The Strand"

Spent a wonderful evening at the Adelphi Theatre enjoying the Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of Sondheim’s masterpiece “Sweeney Todd”. The excellent cast was headed by Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton who both rightly received a standing ovation from a full house. Michael Ball is clearly the best and most versatile actor around today in musical theatre by a country mile (who can forget his Olivier winning performance as Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray”) and is second only to the Great Diva Elaine Paige in my all time Pantheon of musical stars. Indeed Barnet Girl and Conservative supporter Ms Paige (this woman is absolutely perfect in every way) was educated at the now long forgotten Southaw School in Russell Lane (as was my sister) and it is surely high time she was created a Dame.

Imelda Staunton can just simply turn her hand to any role serious or comedy, musical or straight and indeed is an old hand at Sondheim as I remember seeing her in the original London production of “Into the Woods “in 1990 when the theatre was virtually empty as the Task Force had just begun the liberation of Kuwait, and London had emptied of American tourists whose knowledge of Geography had lead them to believe that somehow Kuwait was just a couple of stops on the subway from the West End.

Coincidentally, also enjoying a night at the theatre was my old friend (and Christ College Boy) Councillor Robert Davis, Deputy Leader of Westminster City Council. In my view Robert single handedly does more to encourage West End Theatre than probably any other individual with the wonderful annual weekend “West End Live” promoted by Westminster City Council this year drawing huge crowds to Trafalgar Square. Robert is celebrating 30 years of service on Westminster where he has held most offices, including being the youngest (at the time) individual to serve as Lord Mayor. The fact that he was turned down for selection for a seat on Barnet Council which lead him to seek election in Westminster was a great political loss for this Borough, but whilst Westminster got Robert, Barnet got Councillor Melvin Cohen so we cannot complain!

Just to prove that there are some heterosexual fans of musical theatre whilst we were enjoying our interval drinks the former Local Government Association Chairman Lord (Jeremy) Beecham came over to say hello. Lord Beecham is one of my favourite Labour Politicians, not only for his staunch defence of Local Government and the State of Israel but because he once memorably described me as someone "who could not knowingly pass a fire without pouring petrol on it", a quote I have used many times on my CV.

During the Olympics the Adelphi closed the Show for a fortnight to avoid the traffic chaos and many other West End Theatres were half empty. Perhaps when the “spectacle “ of the Olympics and Paralympics are over those who have clamoured for tickets for the various events can fork out and enjoy the nightly spectacle of the many and varied shows in our West End Theatres.


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