Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lend Me a Tenor & Million Dollar Quartet


Some sights are so visually out of the ordinary that they stay with me for a long time.  One was Rebecca standing on the floor but with her coffee mug raised to the ceiling, trying to catch the fine Stream of water that was pouring out of the fire alarm detecor, splashes of it landing on her haïr, her shoulders, the rug and the bed beside her.

"Call the front desk.  Just dial zero.  Tell them what is happening here."

"Hello.  Water is streaming out of the roof.  Would this be consisent with the history of this room?", I said.

“Run, get me another empty cup from the bathroom,” called Rebecca, at the same time the clerk saying “I will be up in five minutes”

“I don’t think she can stand there with her mug in the air catching the water that long,” I replied.

I hung up and at that moment the fire alarm went off – in our room only.  Rebecca’s arms holding the coffee mug came down and we both reached for the three things we would want most  if we had to leave our hotel bedroom and never come back.

The clerk was at the door by the time we had our shoes on and our passports and money collected.  “I will find you another room, he said as he opened the door to our room.  At that moment the fire alarm in the whole building went off.

People began streaming out of their rooms and walking down the stairs, all of them in the same condition as we – only half woken from sleep and marching in tune to the fire alarm.

Two hour later we had repacked our bags, moved to the lower floor, a bigger room and were again unpacking and remarking how nice it is to do that with a heightened level of adrenalin flow.

June 4, 2011

Yesterday, Rebecca had taken advantage of pre-booking her plane seat to the bulkhead, a place with plenty of leg-room.  I slipped out of my seat in the row behind her and by the time we had taken off and the plane leveled out, we were both scanning the choices of movies.  Rebecca mocked me – nothing trashy or light.  I was  interested in the Dutch biopic Goethe – knowing nothing more than how to spell his name and a few minutes into the film, charmed by the good acting and clever dialogue.  I do not know what Rebecca and I had been talking about at the airport, but she had said to me, “Don’t speak ill of the dead,” and then she laughed and said, “though I don’t know why not.”   

Don’t speak ill of the dead is a phrase straight from Goethe.  And speaking of the dead, dead tired is what I was.  I couldn't manage any more of the plane movies!

June 5, 2011
After telling me not to come to the Heathrow to pick her up, Wyona changed her mind, gave me consent. I travelled the Picadilly Line to fetch her at the airport, playing the part of all of those Brits who stand at the Airport Exit, either with signs or waving to whomever they are to help continue on their journey.  Every tube stop has its charm.  I am getting to know and love Earl’s Court, finally knowing where the lifts and ramps are for luggage.  Watching Rebecca lug suitcases up and down 83 stairs works to help me spot other alternatives.   When I am paired with Wyona and lift is broken, it is easier.  We look like two old characters our of a movie, struggling to get those suitcases up some stairs.    A true gentleman on the run must have had a few extra minutes to spare and he stopped to help us.

June 5, 2011

Wyona and I left for Central London to get tickets for tonight.  Rebecca got on the phone making appointments to have renting agents show her flats to let.  Our job was easier – since it is easy to find te ticket office for Legally Blonde and the Leister Sqare Ticket wicket marquee held promise of half price shows we have not seen.  All three of us were sitting in Lend me a Tenor by the eveing, Wyona set up with her drinks, her candies to kee her awake and an empty chair on the left side of her to accommodate her left arm. 

The show made me laugh until I cried.

Then tears spilled down my cheeks for a different reason -- over the sentiment of the show's message. 

Rebecca said the same thing happened to her. 

”Pure cheese,” she said, “but it feels so good.”  


The show was rich in stereotypes: the ingénue, the tempermental opera soprano and the fiery Italian wife on the one side and on the male side, the famous Italian tenor, the opera house manager and the yet-to-be-discovered singing sensation.  A comedy of manners – at one point three tenors are on stage, all pretending to be the same person.  The show satirically reference popular and high culture with the same intensity.  It was in the opera singer’s aria when she sings a bit of Butterfly, some of Die Walkerie, the soprano’s aria in the The Nightingale and  show stoppers in10 other operas that I was l
laughing so hard I was crying.  

How can so many operas make their way off the stage and into tunes we all know – either via elevator music or background tunes in cartoons?

Lend me a Tenor is still in its previews.

June 7, 2011
We tried to get day tickets to see Berlioz’s Faust but with standing room only and in a place where we couldn’t see the surtitles, we wasted our time in that line-up, though we did get one free performance out of it at the Collessium.  Wyona poked me when she heard a commotion at the box office and I listened in – a well-dressed Ruropean was complaining that he had been sold a ticket where he couldn’t see the stage – just what we had turned down.  He was wanting his money back.  Then he was demanding to see the manager.  “I am the manager,” said the clerk.  “I want a manager higher than you,” he shouted when he was told that the Collesium can’t honour ticket sales purchased from any other venue. 

Then out marched the man I had seen in a suit, hanging out by the programme stall and about who I had said to Wyona – wow!  The programme man is well dressed.  He was now playing the role of the bouncer, and bodily shoved the man to the door and then pushed him out the door forcefully, with no thought about damaging the beautiful wood or the brass handles on the door.  The man was right back in the door, shouting at the top of his voice, demanding respect and satisfaction.  I was moving to get my back against the marble pillars, this being the closest thing I have ever seen to a bar fight.  The rest of the Brits in the opera line-up seemed to keep theirs eyes on the books they were holding as they stood in the line-up as if they couldn’t see anything. happening.  The first bouncer was joined by a second one who helped shove  the opera patron through the door – a more brutal push than the first exit he had been given.  The man in the expensive leather jacket ending up on the street again, walking down toward the Thames, shouting more loudly than ever and waving is fists in the air. 

“That bouncer has no respect for the beautiful door that opens into this theatre, shoving a person through them like that,” I said to Wyona.

“All I can say is that was a performance at the Collesium we didn’t have to pay for,” Wyona said as we wandered off to the Noel Coward Theatre to get tickets for the Million Dollar Quartet for this evening. 

You might have seen reviews about the Million Dollar Quartet, a story built around the night in 1956 when Sun Records brought Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis together and recorded their evening jam.  People were swaying to the music as they entered the theatre and singing the words of the old tunes to each other as they passed each other in the isles:  Blue Suede Shoes, I Walk the Line, Hound Doug, and Great Balls of Fire. 

This is the short form of our theatre review.  Wyona said Greg and she tried to get tickets to this show when they were in New York earlier this year and it was sold out.  She was glad to see it here and hopes to bring Greg when they come back in the fall.  I hope future shows are sold out in London as well.  A night of music to be remembered and so interesting to get an overview of the history of early rock and roll this way and seeing some riveting musical performances from the past brought to life again.


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