Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The downside of the West End

In terms of entertainment, the West End is one of the best places in London. Full of excellent shows to suit just about everyone, even those adverse to anything mildly musical, it's a must-visit if you're in London.

But, alas, as with every aspect of life, the West End must change. A show is lucky if it survives even just a few months there, and apart from the usual Les Miserables/The Lion King/Phantom of the Opera et al., the line-up changes constantly.

I've grown used to these changes, especially as, despite my fondness of musicals, not every show is on my 'must-see' list. Yes, it would be nice to watch Hairspray, Mamma Mia or Legally Blonde, but I wouldn't centre a London trip around this pursuit. Besides, these musicals are all well-known (mainly because of their film versions), so - unless popularity dwindles - they don't seem to be going anywhere soon.

However, as you may be aware of, there's a particular musical that I have a real thing about: Avenue Q. Completely unconventional and full of unrestrained adult fun, it's not naturally adapted to the West End, but in the four and a half years that it's been there the show has seen unexpected and unprecedented success for a musical of its calibre. Few shows can boast such impressive popularity - let alone modern musicals that are hardly tailored to a typical family. Granted, it's perfect for my parents and I, but the perfect 2.3 children family may not appreciate songs such as 'The Internet is for Porn' and 'Everyone's a Little Bit Racist'.

But, sadly, it had to come to an end. Avenue Q recently posted its closing notice, scheduling its end for the 30th of October, with no plans to move to a new theatre. This is reminiscent of its last planned closing - the show originally decided to end last March, but its popularity resulted in an extension at a new location. However, this time it may actually be the end. The final end.

I plan to see the show at least twice more before it closes, especially as Sam and I tried to go last summer but it was cancelled. I'm going to buy the memorabilia, download the entire soundtrack and savour every last moment of my final visits.

Something that worsens the situation is the fact that my second favourite musical (a recent addition), Hair, will also close soon - on the 4th of September, after only a few months on the West End. I'd definitely like to see this again at least once more; maybe I could pack Hair and Avenue Q into one trip! Gari Davies (whose blog I'm a fan of) has an excellent review of Hair here if anyone's interested.

I suppose when I considered what I like so much about both musicals, I realised that it wasn't just the catchy songs or the constant laughs - it's the fact that both make you think, and are still incredibly relevant and important today (despite the fact that one's set in the sixties!)

Perhaps I should be used to the harshness of London by now, but losing your favourite musicals is still difficult.

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