Curtain up

London trip: A Chorus Line

I’ve not been to London other than for work for a long time.  And I can’t remember the last time I went to the theatre.  Definitely pre-N anyway.  I’d bought my mum tickets to see A Chorus Line at the London Palladium for a Christmas present and yesterday the time had come to take the trip up to London and see the show.

When I was at school I loved the film – I’d videoed it one night and would watch it and sing along.  I even have the soundtrack (although have to admit I’ve not listened to or watched it for ages).  I’d wanted to see the show on Broadway when I went to New York, but unfortunately my trip coincided with the Broadway strike, so I missed out.  I couldn’t believe it was going to be in London, so it was a must to check it out.

I’d never been to the Palladium before; it’s a lovely theatre, with stunning architecture and chandeliers in the bar and foyer.  And a wide front to the stage, which meant it was one of the only theatres with a stage wide enough.

Pretty chandelier
Curtain up
Waiting for curtain up – I always think theatres have a ‘moulin rouge’ look and feel due to the red and gold

The show was as good as I expected.  The cast was brilliant, in particular Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as Diana and Leigh Zimmerman as Sheila.  I’d seen them before in Flashdance and I think, Blood Brothers, so it was great to see them again.  John Partridge (formerly Christian in Eastenders) was meant to play Zack, but we had another guy.  I though it was probably better as after seeing the film I wasn’t sure that I could see John Partridge in the role.  Summer Strallen was fine as Cassie, although similarly to the film, the hair style was seriously annoying.

I think what was great about the show, that the casting ended up having the majority of the actors looking so similar to those in the film.  The final scene was stunning, and just how it should have been with the classic look and feel of old musical line ups, with the striking gold costumes.

My one disappointment was that my favourite song from the film ‘Let me dance for you’ wasn’t included.  Richie’s song was also different to the one in the film although that was less noticeable as a film fan.  My guess is that the film came after the Broadway show so they’d changed some, but it just goes to show that sometimes musicals in theatre should maybe borrow from the films, rather than always sticking with the original.

It was interesting watching the mix of people going to the show.  We’d noticed four men in the bar beforehand who looked more like stereotypical football supporters (3 with extremely short buzz cuts, FCUK t-shirts, trainers etc) and for a musical that’s all about a dance audition, they weren’t the standard attendees.  They were some of the first to be standing in the ovation during the final song ‘One’ though.  There was also a group of women on a hen do (I’d have been impressed if my hen do had been a trip to the theatre!).

Overall, it was a great show, and I’m really pleased we go the chance to see it in London.   I shall be getting the film out again and watching it to compare soon.

Interestingly, the cabbie who took us back to Marylebone told us that if have tickets to see a specific lead, and on the occasion you go it’s someone else performing, you can get your money back.  Not sure how true that is, or how you’d go about it given that we and probably so many others, buy from ticket sites rather than direct from the theatre, but would be interesting to know if anyone’s ever done it.  Seems a bit cheeky if you enjoyed the show anyway.  It’s a bit strange with A Chorus Line, as although there was an announcement at the start saying the name of the replacement, there’s no name on the website saying who the understudies are for the main parts.  I guess if we weren’t cheap and bought programmes, we’d know the details!

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