Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ye Olde Englande, Week 3: A Lot of Landmarks

Another weekend has already come and gone!  It's crazy to think we've been here for almost three weeks.  This last week was full of adventures and crazy weather, but The Wife of course is working on documenting it all at her blog.  As for me, I have just a couple of highlights I would like to mention here.  The first took place Monday last.

Some people believe that love dies.  Some people believe it never dies.  Sometimes I think that in some cases, it should.  Take, for example, Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest foray into musical theatre, the ill-conceived "standalone" sequel to (love it or hate it) the undeniably ultra-popular The Phantom of the Opera.  Of course, I have listened to the soundtrack for Love Never Dies many times, and had formulated the opinion that it has a few really nice songs and a severely ridiculous story (CliffsNotes version:  Ten years later, Phantom has taken up residence in Coney Island and runs a freakshow/burlesque house/opera stage, is still in love with Christine, tricks her into coming to sing an "aria" he has written, she brings along her now scoundrel husband Raoul and her musically gifted ten-year-old son Gustave, Meg is now a hoochie dancer/who-knows-what-else, not to mention in love with the Phantom, who is suddenly incredibly alluring and in no way threatening, all is unveiled and heaving drama ensues), so some people have wondered why I would put down the required pounds to see this programme.  The answer is manifold.   Julie and I had been talking about the few positives and many negatives to this whole Phantom 2 thing for several months, sure we would never have a chance to see it whether we wanted to or not.  When Julie told me she had been picked to come to London, she broke the news by saying we should go see Love Never Dies... IN LONDON!!!1  So, since we're here, and since it's new, and since it's still featuring the original cast, and since we managed to find discounted tickets, we were glad to see it.  Bottom line:  The story was expectedly ridiculous (some of the characters suffer harshly, particularly Raoul and Meg, all in the name of making the Phantom suddenly and inexplicably appealing), but some of the music was actually rather breath-taking, owing in great part to the actually rather exquisite cast (we both agreed we would love to see this cast in the original, in which evidently they have all played).  The Phantom and Christine's respective solo numbers were particularly jaw-dropping.  Sierra Boggess FTW!  The Wife has posted some videos of their performances of the pieces we loved on her blog, so you should look there to watch them too.

Second, we took a day trip last Saturday to three landmarks.  Under the able guidance of tour guide Celia, we visited Windsor Castle in the morning, which was ornate and elegant.

After a short lunch at a small English restaurant, we visited the one and only Stonehenge!  It was mysterious and a little bit spooky.  It's just so old and there are so many unanswered questions around it.  There's no real way to know its purpose, but it's fun to speculate, and in fact while there I had a sort of epiphany.  All I can say is that God has had temples of some kind in every age and with every civilization.
Finally, we ended up in the charming town of Bath (or, "Bahth"), where we took a tour of the Roman Baths museum, complete with armored Roman Soldier host, had hot chocolate and Bath Buns, visited the Pump Room and even tried the bath water (it was warm and a little metallic).
It was a whirlwind tour of sightseeing, but it was great for the price.  It was hard to choose, but Stonehenge was my favorite.  It just appeared, and there it was.

So there you have it!  From the ridiculous to the sublime.  This week is going to be busy with work projects and one more move, but we are looking forward to the events that are to come.  I enjoy running through Regent's Park every morning, past the London Zoo where I'm almost sure to see some sort of wild animals in their pens, or perhaps where I may be interviewed by a camera crew about my running shoes.  Always something unexpected around here.


  1. Ah, BAHth. Lovely. Love the henge, as you know . . . but it was ALIENS!! (Actually, I just read my little booklet in my "Build Your Own Stonehenge" and learned quite a lot. ALSO, read The 3rd book in the Enchanted Chocolate Pot series, which talks a lot about ley lines and the stone circles in England, which I thought they made up, but they didn't. I thought of the henge the entire time.)

    ANYwho . . . looks like a great tour! I loved Bath! It was SO interesting to me. Did you have the little audio tour?

  2. Yes, Stonehenge. Just stuck there in that field. No apparent reason. Just there.

  3. Phantom Needs NO Sequel!
    As you've mentioned, Webber destroys the original characters and story written by Gaston Leroux. Theatre critics around the world disliked the show giving it less than 3 stars, and audience members are calling the production 'Paint Never Dries'.

    Thank you for posting you thoughts about the show! If you need to be cleansed, check out the original production - The Phantom of the Opera.


  4. Sorry to disagree, but "Love never dies" is a brilliant masterwork. The reactions from audiences speak for themselves-nearly all of them cry at the end and are deeply touched. "The Phantom of the opera" needs no sequel, that's true, but it's here and it's just fantastic. Sorry anyone finds the story not good, but that's not the majority. The show has developed a great and sophisticated following and rightly so.
    But erach to his own, of course :-)

  5. Ugh, I hate anonymous comments. Dare to use your name already!

    I would love to know how you could possibly know that "nearly all" of the audience cry at the end. I was crying a little bit because of how the whole thing all kind of fell apart after Christine's solo, but not really for the reasons you mean. I also think you're wrong about the majority liking it, and would challenge you to produce some evidence of such a claim, but as I don't believe any exists, I don't believe it would do any good.

  6. Heh. I'm not that big a fan of the original Phantom, for reasons I could (and do) discourse upon at length, but sequel-itis in general also gives me hives. Just let a story end gracefully, people--don't beat it to death!

    Sounds like you've been having a grand time!