The theatre capital of Europe, the West End is a collection of theatres spread across central London, housing an endless variety of plays, musicals and variety shows. When in London I was lucky enough to see two of them: Hamilton and School of Rock.
Hamilton! Need I say more? I was incredibly fortunate to see this show when I was in London. The excitement for the show is felt for miles as people lined the streets with tickets in hand eager to get inside. The Victoria Palace Theatre was the perfect theatre to house the show as the auditorium was beautiful and had a great atmosphere. I think the excitement was doubled by how far those around me had travelled to see the musical. Not one person I talked to was from London, most weren’t even from the UK!
The show was outstanding and every element worked! The cast were incredible and their talent was evident. From the opening number you are completely hooked on the show and can see how passionate the cast are in their performing.
In regard to technical elements, the use of the turntable stage was quite effective in providing movement on stage intermixed with the ensemble choreography. The lighting was also spectacular and combined with the music, worked well to promote transitions of mood.
Hamilton was a standing ovation show and clearly lived up to its hype. The passion and energy from the audience and cast alike makes for a great night out as everyone gets swept up in the story of Alexander Hamilton.
School of Rock was a last minute add in for us. In our last few days in London we wandered into a discount theatre ticket store and picked a show off the list. We decided to see School of Rock. After a little session of trying to find the theatre we made our way inside, accompanied by a series of families and school kids.
The show seems to have an upwards scale throughout in regards to energy. I was a little bit worried in the first 20 minutes but was pleasantly surprised by how the show builds. What starts as a rather slow beginning ends in a pumped-up rock concert where the audience is on their feet and allowed to film the final number. The kids are clearly talented and the show has a great blend of film moments and original scenes. Though no one can compare to Jack Black this musical is a great night of fun…and yes, the kids really do play their own instruments!
The West End had a very different vibe to Broadway. In New York, Broadway sits near Times Square and is therefore home to scores of tourists. Though I greatly enjoyed watching Broadway performances I found that the audiences at the West End are more respectful of the theatre. That being said, both theatre worlds are home to an incredible array of shows and I wish I could have seen more.