A November 2003 trip
to London by vampirefan
Quote: London is an eclectic blend of history and the now-and-happening. You can step back in time, or be on the cutting edge. This portion of my London journal details all the modern London I saw.
Attraction | "The Lion King"
The Lion King is the Broadway version of the animated movie by the same name from Disney. Julie Taymor directed and did most of the work for the show, while Garth Fagen provided the choreography, and Sir Elton John transformed his lyrics for the stage. The show tells of a young lion cub, Simba, who watches as his father dies and thinks it is his fault. It is actually his evil uncle Scar, who wanted to rule as the leader, but young Simba does not know that. He runs away trying to escape his guilt and learns how to survive, thanks to his friends Pumbaa and Timon. He finally finds out what happens and returns to his home to be the ruler, just as his father would have wanted.
Instead of putting her actors into furry costumes, Taymor decided to use rich fabrics, masks, and puppetry to show off her actors. The result is an amazing blend of characters that seem to come to live onstage. Everything about this show is amazing. The dance, the songs, just everything. You can’t but help watch this show in awe of the talented cast and its creators. Make sure that, whatever you do, that you do not miss the opening of the show. The cast comes in from the back of the house to the song "Circle of Life", and it will leave you simply stunned.
If you have never seen a Broadway show, then this would be the perfect place to start. This show is great for the whole family. And if you're like me and have already seen it before, then you will love seeing it in London. Five shows later, I would see it every night if I could. Two hours and 45 minutes later, you will be on your feet, shouting "bravo" and ready to see it again.
The current show is set to run through at least May 2006. They have several touring versions of the show. They also have cast shows in Germany, Australia, Japan, and the Netherlands. It also permanently plays at the New Amsterdam Theatre in NYC (I also have a review in my NYC journal). The first London showing was on October 19, 1999. The show is housed in the grand Lyceum Theatre, which has stood since 1871. They have a gift shop where you can pick up an assortment of Lion King merchandise. You can book your tickets through www.londontown.com, www.broadway.com, or www.disney.go.com. The show is still very popular, and I would recommend an advanced purchase. Half-price day-of tickets can be purchased at Leicester Square.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 3, 2005
London, England WC2E 7DA
+44 870 606 3441
Joseph is the brainchild of legendry Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. It premiered at the Abby Theater in London on February 6, 1973. Over the years, Joseph has been successful on the stage and has enjoyed a number of revivals. It, currently, is still being toured and is set to be revised on stage in New York later on this year. I have seen the show many times and still get a thrill every time I see it. I have had the pleasure of seeing Broadway Great Sam Harris perform as Joseph, and more recently, Jon Secada (who, quite frankly, needs to learn how to be nicer to his fans). When in London, Joseph was being played by Stephen Gatley from Boyzone, which, as I understand, is a boy band, but nonetheless, he gave a knock-out performance.
The music from the show is nothing less than brilliant. The show opens with the very catchy "Any Dream Will Do" and features the moving "Close Every Door." "One More Angle in Heaven" and "Go, Go Go Joseph" are riots. The pharaoh, who looks an awful lot like Elvis, is a hoot and a favorite of the audience. The show was at the New London Theater, which dates from 1847 and was the former home to Webber’s equally brilliant CATS.
The show never fails to please, and from all the standing ovations, it was also loved by the audience I was attending with. If you have children with you, Joseph is a great place to start them exploring Broadway. In fact, the cast always features a children’s choir comprised of local school children wherever it is being held. The cast album is still available and is incredible. The very handsome Gary Bond took the original title of Joseph and can be heard on the cast CD. Then show is also available on DVD, with former teen idol Donny Osmond as Joseph. You can order any Broadway tickets from www.broadway.com or www.londontown.com. Or, if Joseph is coming to your town, make sure to take in a performance. I bet you that you will like it, too.
Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
London, England WC2B 5PW
020 7400 5007
Attraction | "Madame Tussaud's Museum"
When you first walk in, you will enter the Premier Night room. Here you can hob knob with celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Samuel L Jackson, or Nick Cage. Or just take a breather with Madonna on the couch. Next, enter The World is a Stage. Here you will find a mix of celebrities and political figures. You will see the Dalai Lama, William Shakespeare, Princess Di, and several US Presidents. You can also have your picture taken with the royal family. Then go home and brag about meeting Chuck and Liz on your own whirlwind tour of London.
They have a separate tour, which is the Chamber of Horrors Serial Killers. It is okay and not a whole lot more to tour. Be warned, though: it is extremely dusty and damp-smelling. Anyone with allergies to dust or mold might either want to make sure they have taken their medication beforehand or skip this all together. I suffer terrible from mold and dust, and the place was so bad that it gave me an asthma attack, ending my tour rather abruptly.
They do have a snack bar on the premises, but it is located right next to the American Idol stage. So cross your fingers you don’t get someone who thinks they are the next Celine Dion or Josh Grobin (unless they really are talented, in which case, you’re in luck). They also have restrooms and a gift shop. The museum is fun, and unlike other museums, you can get up close and personal for a terrific photo. After all, this is about as close to Mel Gibson as most of us will ever get. For more info or advanced tickets, go to www.madam-tussauds.com. The Baker Street Tube is your best bet.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 4, 2005
London, England NW1 5LR
44 (870) 999 0046
Attraction | "The Original London Walks"
It was a cold and foggy November evening when we set off on foot in search of some ghosts--just perfect for some good ghost stories. Our tour guide was Corrine, who is also an actress. She arrived with an even whiter face than you find on an English lass and dressed all in black. There were originally over 100 people who showed up for this tour. Guests were from all over the States and the world. The group was so big, in fact, they had to call for back-up and take two groups so everyone could hear.
You go down narrow and winding paths to hear about haunted buildings, churches, and pubs. You hear about and see the haunted London Bridge, churches that had to double as morgues during the plague and still have the sick who don’t care to leave, haunted Coven Garden (they also throw in some entertaining Hollywood gossip, since Harry Potter was filmed there--nothing bad, just a bit cheeky!), and the souls left behind after horrendous murders.
Corrine was absolutely wonderful and such a great storyteller. They get their stories from a number of places. One search on places such as www.amazon.com should give you a list of plenty of London ghost stories. This group meets at the Monument, and you take the Monument tube to get there. Corrine also knows her way around, so she will help you find your way if you get lost when they return, or join her for a pint in the pub. You do not meet at an office, so you might want to take a restroom stop at the tube, as well as pick up a beverage. The tour last about 90 minutes. It is a pretty easy walk and doesn’t get too strenuous or fast-paced. They do go down cobblestone streets, in case you or someone with you is in a wheelchair. The Original London Walks host a number of walks and tours. The also have several other haunted tours, including "Ghosts, Gaslights, and Guinness," "Ghosts of the Old City," "West End Ghosts," and "Jack the Ripper Haunts." You can visit them at www.walks.com. The walks only cost 5 pounds, making it one of your best bets. Advanced tickets are encouraged during tourist season and in October. In off-season, you simply show up at the meeting place.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 4, 2005
Original London Walks
PO Box 1708
London, England NW6 4LW
+44 20 7624 3978
Here you will find wax figures (though nothing like Madame Tussauds) acting out scenes from the Sherlock novels. You will also find antique furniture, pictures, books, and the likes from "Sherlock Holmes". Most of it is actually from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. You can sit at the desk Doyle wrote at and have your picture taken with "Mr. Watson". I was surprised when the gentleman asked where we were from, and we said North Carolina, and he had relatives in Gastonia, of all places. If it is not crowed, you can cover the museum in less than an hour.
The building itself dates to 1815, and Watson and Sherlock were to have resided here from 1881-1904. It is listed on the government’s list of historical places. Now, one might wonder if Sherlock Holmes was real or not. There are a number of people who were supposed to have inspired the character. But there wasn’t really a Sherlock Holmes, super crime-fighter, who worked for Scotland Yard. It was the character brought to life by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in over 60 books and novels and numerous movies and TV series.
The campy appeal of this place is what makes it fun. There is nothing here too scary for any wee ones in tow. They do offer a gift shop on the first level. You are permitted to take pictures inside. For more information, go to www.sherlock-holmes.com.uk. Baker Street tube is the closet tube entrance.
Sherlock Holmes Museum
221b Baker Street
London, England NW1 5RT
+44 20 7935 8866
Charlotte, North Carolina