It's January. The weather is miserable, Christmas is over and summer seems a very long way away. The only way I can cheer myself up is to go and see a show! But how do I choose what to see?
With a vast array of West End shows to chose from I often find it very difficult to decide between them.
Let's start with the biggest question first. Musical or play? If you regularly read my blogs you will be aware that I am fanatical about musical theatre and might assume that I would never chose to see a play. Not the case! I sometimes decide to dabble with the dark side where there is not a jazz hand in site. I have seen some fantastic plays recently, but my favourite has to be The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time. I'm also really looking forward to seeing Di and Viv and Rose in a couple of weeks time staring Tamsin Outhwaite, Samantha Spiro and Jenna Russell. I always feel very grown up when I tell people I'm going to see a play. I do however, still sometimes think a good tap number is just what is needed to liven things up a bit.
So let's just say I've chosen a musical (which, to be honest is most likely). Do I chose to see something new and different or a classic which I've seen before but know I'm going to love. Generally I like to mix it up a bit. All of the big shows were new once. It is sometimes worth a try in order to be one of the first to see a show that will later become a classic. I watched Wicked within the first three months of it opening before any of my friends had heard anything about it. I love things that are a bit different. I recently watched Urinetown which I thought was going to go on to become really big. I loved it but unfortunately it has since closed.
Of course there are some shows I would quite happily never see again, but other West End musicals I've seen multiple times and counting (Miss Saigon 12, Wicked 8, Les Miserables 4).
Sometimes I take a risk if there is someone in the cast who I admire. I would give The Ruling Class a try. Although it's a play, I've heard that James McAvoy is excellent and I love the Trafalgar Studios as a venue. You are really close to the action so that it feels like you are part of it. Kerry Ellis in Cats is a must see, and I would also like to see Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown. This is mostly because it boasts another former Elphaba, Willemijn Verkaik, as well as comedy great, Tamsin Greig.
You do always run the risk of watching the understudy if you chose this option but that's not necessarily a bad thing! See my previous blog Big Names Vs Alternates Stand-Ins And Understudies.
I like to find out as much as I can about the show before I go. For a musical, I try to listen to some of the music if possible. It's always good to read reviews, but I have read things and thought the exact opposite when I then saw the show, so take reviews with a grain of salt! I won't mention names but I had a very long nap during act two of one very famous West End show which had received glowing reviews.
Another major factor of course is price. It's amazing how much more appealing a show can be if there are cheap tickets. There are often great deals to be had, particularly in January. Check out London Theatre Direct's Discounts section for special deals and cheap theatre tickets.
It's always a good idea to research the show and in my experience, you can normally guess if it's going to be your bag.
I have to confess though, my trigger finger still often hovers over the 'book tickets' icon for Wicked!
By Nicky Sweetland
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