My Trip to London

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My Trip to London#1
Posted: 2/24/08 at 8:27am
Hey. So I went to London this past week and I saw Much Ado About Nothing at the National Theatre, Billy Elliot, Blood Brothers and Cabaret. I thought Much Ado at the National was great, Billy Elliot was alright, Blood brothers was not great (pretty bad), and Cabaret was excellent.

Here's my question: How has Blood Brothers run so long? I know how Cats ran so long and most theatregoers hated it, but why do you guys think that Blood Brothers has run so long? It was a mediocre show as far as I'm concerned. It has a pretty good plot and one or two nice songs, but overall it was pretty lousy. I'm not here to bash the show or anything as it was perfectly entertaining. I just want to see what you guys think about this. Thanks everyone.
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re: My Trip to London#2
Posted: 2/24/08 at 8:47am
Tourists, tourists and more tourists! Any English people who would want to see it these days will probably see it on its never ending tour. A friend of mine living in Bristol saw it at the Hippodrome last tear for the first time and was truly shocked that it had been around 24/25 years. The show was at its peak within its first 3 or 4 years in London.
A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
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re: My Trip to London#2
Posted: 2/24/08 at 8:56am
Well, considering I was a tourist seeing it, that would make sense. And by the way, I would say that the theatre was less than half full. The stalls were only filled about through row F. I didn't look in the upper circles, but god only knows. I would say there were 400 people tops in a theatre that holds 1000 or so.
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re: My Trip to London#3
Posted: 2/24/08 at 9:16am
re: My Trip to London

I've been told the Upper Circle only gets used in busy Summer months. Bill Kenwright had his money back on thus 15 or so years ago and now its seen as his kind of permanent foothold in the West End. The last time i saw a production of 'Blood Brothers' was in Oct 1999 with the tragic and troubled Stepanie Lawrence playing Mrs Johnston. She gave the most wonderful performance even tho she was going thru very bad times with drugs and drink etc etc.
Sadly 3 weeks after i saw that matinee she was found dead.
I wont see 'Blood Brothers' again as i now want to keep that memory of her doing it with such feeling and power.

A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
Updated On: 2/24/08 at 09:16 AM
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re: My Trip to London#4
Posted: 2/24/08 at 12:46pm
Wicked I saw Stephanie in the early 90's and agree she was just amazing. Some people are just born to play a particular role and this was hers.

As said before I saw her in Marilyn and also in Bubbling Brown Sugar (when she was at her most youthful and glamorous). Huge potential never fully realised.
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re: My Trip to London#5
Posted: 2/24/08 at 1:05pm
I so agree with you. I think the Csat recording of her 'Blood Brothes' is by far the better available. She was also amazing in the National tour of 'Blues In The Night' but the demons inside took hold and she was always off.
A tragic loss of a supreme talent.
A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
Updated On: 2/24/08 at 01:05 PM
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re: My Trip to London#6
Posted: 2/24/08 at 2:43pm
What do you guys like about the show so much?
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re: My Trip to London#7
Posted: 2/24/08 at 3:53pm
Mbmusic ~ when did you see Billy? I was there on the 16th at the matinee.
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re: My Trip to London#8
Posted: 2/24/08 at 10:36pm
I saw Billy Elliot on Tuesday, February 19th at 7:30.
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re: My Trip to London#9
Posted: 2/25/08 at 11:57am
Ah, cool. I was back in the states by then. Sleeping. :)
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re: My Trip to London#10
Posted: 2/26/08 at 5:35pm
Mbmusic: Blood Brothers resonated strongly in the late 80s/early90s with British audiences because it portrays the effects and uncertainties resulting from the economic reforms introduced by Margaret Thatcher's government. TV programmes that dealt with this theme were also very popular at that time. Similar themes are dealt with in Billy Elliott as you will have noticed. A second reason is that tragedies have always gone down well in London (West Side Story was a bigger success in London than on Broadway back in the 50s). A third reason is that Willy Russell also wrote a number of popular and successful plays at that time that also tapped into British conciousness (Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine). A fourth reason is that the old style Socialism of the Labour party at that time was dead on its feet and it so it found a different voice in the theatre. Blood Brothers closes by saying that its storyline is a result of the class system. I personally don't agree with that but that is how the author wanted it to be understood. Fifthly, there has always been at least one perculiarly British musical in the West End that has run for years but left overseas visitors baffled (Salad Days, Charley Girl, Canterbury Tales, and Michael Crawford's Billy). We do it to be awkward!
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re: My Trip to London#11
Posted: 2/26/08 at 6:25pm
Scripps! Submit that to the PR that works for 'Blood Brothers' and 'Billy Elliott'- brilliantly put x
A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
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re: My Trip to London#12
Posted: 2/26/08 at 6:30pm
You do so on my behalf and you can be my agent!
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re: My Trip to London#13
Posted: 2/26/08 at 6:33pm
Well i've only seen you put positive/ constructive posts since you joined .
A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
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re: My Trip to London#14
Posted: 2/26/08 at 6:48pm
Scripps2- that was very helpful. Thanks for your insights.
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re: My Trip to London#15
Posted: 2/26/08 at 6:59pm
re: My Trip to London

'Breezeblock Park' (1975) being my favorite of Willy Russell's works.

Take a look at 2 of the smaller names on this poster!!!


A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
Updated On: 2/26/08 at 06:59 PM
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re: My Trip to London#16
Posted: 2/28/08 at 8:30pm
I saw Blood Brothers in 05 and loved it. I do think agree with the statment that it was based upon the class structure of Thatcher England. But, I don't agree with the statement that the story is a result of the class structure. I saw it at a point when I didn't know anything bout the thatcher or any of that. I just viewed it as a poor struggling family getting money from a rich family via the payment of a child.

That is how I still view it.

I do remember when I saw it it was at the reccomindation of a family friend. My parents were looking at each other during the first few bars of Marlyn Monroe because they realized that they saw the show before when it played the music box theatre on Broadway in 95.
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re: My Trip to London#17
Posted: 3/4/08 at 9:32pm
I saw Blood Brothers when I was in London last April and I agree I thought it was not a good show, yes it does have a couple of good songs. The whole time I was watching it I kept thinking to myself I wish I would of gone to see something else. I also saw Billy Elliott on that trip and I loved it, the movie is one of my favorites. I saw Billy Elliott again when I went back to London in this past November. I can't wait to see it when it opens in NY this fall.
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re: My Trip to London#18
Posted: 3/5/08 at 7:52pm
I think the secret of Blood Brothers' success is that it's a show with "heart" - a great book with the perfect match of humour and dramatic emotion and a score that "works", building to a climax with the powerful finale ("Tell Me It's Not True"). This said, I still have to admit I'm surprised that it has survived quite as long as it has.

Another show with "heart" at its core is "Billy Elliot" - though I would say that with its superior score and sensational dancing, it's a far better show than "Blood Brothers", and is for my money one of the three best musicals currently playing in the West End.

As for "Cabaret" - which I would rate as one of THE great shows ever written - I thought the current Rufus Norris production was way beyond awful when I saw it in December 2006 and I'm stunned that it is still running. It's a total travesty of Hal Prince's original vision for the show and not in the same league as the Sam Mendes/Rob Marshall production I saw at Studio 54 in 1999.

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re: My Trip to London#19
Posted: 3/5/08 at 8:26pm
bob8rich i could not agree with you more about the current production of Cabaret.The whole thing just seemed to be one bad choice after another.

I was lucky enough to see the production at 54 on Broadway (i watched it with Gina Gershon from Showgirls and Bound) and that was one amazing production
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re: My Trip to London#20
Posted: 3/5/08 at 8:37pm
Such a shame it didnt take the Prince Of Wales as was planned straight from the Donmar, but instead went to Broadway.... it was a classic production of a classic show- now only to be seen in London as a kind of end of the pier show- not nice. It s great that it can be seen on video tho. Damn Kenwright!- sorry!
A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
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re: My Trip to London#21
Posted: 3/5/08 at 8:38pm
RE Cabaret.
Such a shame it didnt take the Prince Of Wales as was planned straight from the Donmar, but instead went to Broadway.... it was a classic production of a classic show- now only to be seen in London as a kind of end of the pier show- not nice. It s great that it can be seen on video tho. Damn Kenwright!- sorry!
A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
Updated On: 3/6/08 at 08:38 PM
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re: My Trip to London#22
Posted: 3/6/08 at 5:53am
I just viewed it as a poor struggling family getting money from a rich family via the payment of a child.

That is how I still view it.


That's the core of it and is why it has played (reasonably) successfully outside the UK - it can be enjoyed just as much on that level.

However, the show as a comment on Thatcher's Britain is fairly explicit - how two identical boys, growing on up on either side of the social divide can end up so different by the end. When Micky shouts "Why couldn't you have given me away, mum?", it's the most heartbreaking moment in the whole show. The fact that being raised in a poor family he was almost doomed from the start (which makes sense if you consider the Narrator to be 'Fate' personified and is why the prologue 'gives the ending away') was a reflection on Thatcher's economic and social policies of the time.

Billy Elliot is a completely different kettle of fish - it's aspirational rather than melodrama and tragedy. All it shares with Blood Brothers is setting and context.

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re: My Trip to London#23
Posted: 3/8/08 at 4:31pm
Eastwickian: I have to disagree with you on Billy Elliot. The film may have been more about aspiration but I think the stage version definitely steps up the politics. For me the journey made by Billy's dad as he reluctantly realises the Miners' strike is doomed to failure is an important counterpoint to the journey made by Billy. If the stage version was just about a child wanting to go to ballet school then it would be taking 2 1/2 hours to say the same thing that A Chorus Line says in 2 1/2 minutes with At The Ballet.
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re: My Trip to London#24
Posted: 3/8/08 at 5:02pm
talking of cabaret i came home from berlin today (saw tanz re: My Trip to London) where a pretty extravagent looking production of cabaret was playing until the 30th march, didn't catch it because i only found out about it on my last day there, but that looked pretty fun and sparkly, but also somewhat dark as cabaret should be. i love cabaret, one of my current favourites, the london production (which i might be seeing next month) looks pretty drab, but what do you expect from bill kenwright? you'll probably find it consists of cetury-old joseph and blood brothers sets, i recently bought the london cd, the cast sounds great, but i also love the 1998 broadway cd, i'd love to see alan cumming do the emcee when clary leaves, i'm sure he'll bring the production up a few notches. the berlin production has a website with a video and a few pictures, link : www.cabaret-berlin.de
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