What I Did This Week: November 20-26

This week was quite busy so I didn't get to do as much London exploring as I typically like. Plus, with only a few weeks left before I head home for Christmas I'm going to have to buckle down on my essays. However, I do have some very exciting things planned for the next few weeks!

On Monday night, I attended the first preview of The Woman in White, a slightly reworked version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical based on the novel by Wilkie Collins. I've been looking forward to it for months as it has some of my favorite West End actors in it and it did not disappoint in the least. I filmed a video reviewing the novel and the show, which the Woman in White Twitter and Charing Cross Theatre Twitter were both kind enough to share. Definitely keep an eye out for my upcoming blog review of it as well!

Heritage Sites & Museums
I actually didn't attend any museums this week other than my normal shift at the Charles Dickens Museum and doing my orientation at the John Keats House. However, I did work the 'Sherry Cobbler & Strawberry Collins: An Evening of Forgotten Cocktails' event on Wednesday night at the Charles Dickens Museum which was so fun. It was all about the cocktails that Dickens loved, complete with a tasting by the London Gin Club, which was also my work station.

(My final verdict is that the Sherry Cobbler was nasty, but I wish the Strawberry Collins was still in fashion because it would be my drink of choice.)

For BroadwayWorld this week, I went to see my first panto (a blog post and YouTube video coming about that soon). I got to see Hackney Empire's Cinderella which was really great fun even if it was very different than anything I'd seen before. You can read my review here.

On Friday night, some friends and I went out to Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park. It's a super creative and inventive light show of sorts that I honestly can't even explain (and my photos certainly don't do it justice). It was really cool experience, even if it was freezing cold!

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday! Can you believe that next week marks the beginning of December?

1) I'm so excited that Six, a pop mini musical about the six wives of King Henry VIII that was popular at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, has announced four London performances over December and January. I'll definitely be going to that one!

2) This Buzzfeed quiz tells you which Disney character you should play at a Disney park. I was so excited that I got Belle (even if I know I'm actually too short to play her).

3) While it's technically past Thanksgiving today, I still wanted to share this awesome Thanksgiving-themed playlist that my friend Raj made.

4) Alyssa Campanella is by far my favorite fashion blogger, partially because of her love for history and period drama, so it's no surprise that I fell in love with this Downton Abbey inspired post of hers.

5) Rob Houchen recently released his music video for "Safe and Sound" from his latest EP on his new Vevo channel on YouTube. Definitely check it out as it's absolutely gorgeous.

Review: Kinky Boots starring Jordan Fox (Charlie Price u/s)

Kinky Boots has been one of my favorite shows for years and I recently got the chance to see it for the fifth time here in the West End. I saw it last month with David Hunter, the lead, playing Charlie Price and while he was amazing, last week I went specifically to see Jordan Fox as Charlie. I'd heard amazing things and I definitely was not disappointed.

I was lucky enough to win the TodayTix lottery, which I cannot recommend enough, and thus got an amazing front row seat for just £20!

Kinky Boots tells the story of Charlie Price who begins making boots for drag queens to save his father's shoes factory. At the heart of the show is his relationship with drag queen, Lola, and how both he and the rest of the factory workers have to come to accept her. Throw in a cute love story, a great message about accepting yourself and others, fun music by Cyndi Lauper, flashy big dance numbers, and you've got an amazing show.

Verity Rushworth is a wonderful and hilarious Lauren who manages to bring charm to the kooky role. She has a lovely voice and her "The History of Wrong Guys" is easily a highlight of the show. She remains relatable and provides a great contrast to Bleu Woodward's Nicola. I must say that Bleu is the best Nicola I've ever seen, simply in that she made a somewhat difficult character quite likable. She has a lovely voice that almost seems wasted on this small role and her Nicola is a driven career woman who is simply unwilling to give up her dreams for a man -- and quite rightly!

I was impressed by Simon-Anthony Rhoden's Lola once again. He has a glorious voice and dance skills to match. Simon also manages to bring both the humor and the drama of the role across equally, whereas I have found that many Lola's are good at one and not the other. (I also have to say that every time I see him, I'm a bit struck by how muscular he is...you definitely can believe that he's a trained fighter like Lola supposedly is!)

Jordan Fox is definitely one of the best Charlie's I've ever seen. He comes across as quite a young Charlie: a young man who has lost his father and is struggling to find his purpose in life. He has a splendid voice and hit Charlie's higher notes seemingly effortlessly. His chemistry with both Simon-Anthony Rhoden and Verity Rushworth was lovely. I will also say that he used his shorter height to his advantage, which made scenes with factory worker Don even funnier than normal.

Charlie can be a bit of a hard role, in that in many scenes, he comes across as a bit of a jerk, yet the musical doesn't seem to function properly if he's not lovable. Jordan is the only Charlie I've seen who maintained his likability the entire way through the show. Several lines I've normally seen delivered harshly, he said with an apologetic smile. He also broke into tears in several different moments (his voicemail to Lola at the beginning of "Hold Me in Your Heart" was particularly poignant). He brought me to tears more than I thought you could cry in a feel-good show like Kinky Boots!

I've now seen Kinky Boots now on Broadway twice, the US tour, and in the West End twice and there's something special about this current cast here in London. I can't recommend this beautiful show with upbeat music and a lovely message enough. When people are going to New York or London, it's always one of the things I suggest they see!

You can buy tickets to see Kinky Boots here or via TodayTix.

What I Did This Week: November 13-19

This week was a crazy week for me! I saw three different shows (and a movie!) and had a lot going on with class and work as well. I decided to add another category onto these posts, BroadwayWorld, as a place to share with you the articles that I've written for them each week and separate the shows I review from the ones I see for myself personally.

On Corinne's suggestion, I went to see Apologia on Monday night which starred Stockard Channing, Laura Carmichael, and Freema Agyeman. It closed on the 18th, so I realized that I needed to get on it if I wanted to see it and wow, am I glad that I did. It's a stunning family drama that largely deals with the issue of the sacrifices that the family matriarch has made for her career as an art historian. The entire cast was stunning and proved that, unlike some celebrity casting, each of them was perfectly suited to their role.

On Wednesday night, I returned to one of my favorite shows, Kinky Boots. I absolutely adore this show and when I heard that the Charlie Price understudy, Jordan Fox, was on, I knew I had to go. I was lucky enough to win the TodayTix lottery and get the very middle seat of the front row. I plan on doing a full review of Jordan's Charlie, but for now, I'll just say that he was definitely one of the best I've ever seen. He managed to make Charlie likable the entire way through...which I've never seen before!

Heritage Sites & Museums
On Monday, I went to the British Library exhibit about Harry Potter and the history of magic. If you want to go, I recommend buying your tickets far in advance because it does sell out far in advance (we booked our tickets over two weeks before). It's well worth seeing as it has a combination of objects related to the history of magic (including actual cauldrons!) and things like J.K. Rowling's original sketches and drafts. More than that, it's beautifully designed and has some lovely interactive bits as well.

I went to see a show at the Saatchi Gallery called Inside Pussy Riot on Thursday afternoon. You can read my full review for BroadwayWorld here, but it's a completely immersive on your feet production about the Russian feminist punk rock group, Pussy Riot. It's completely different from anything I've ever experienced before and if I'm perfectly honest, a bit too much for me, but also very good for what it is.

I interviewed Robert Hastie, the artistic director of Sheffield Theatres on Wednesday and he was absolutely lovely. He's done some amazing work and was quite eloquent in the interview as we spoke about directing and his upcoming production of The Wizard of Oz. I'm really looking forward to seeing The York Realist which he's directing at the Donmar Warehouse in the spring. You can read the interview here.

On Friday, I interviewed Marisha Wallace who is moving from being the alternate to the principal Effie in Dreamgirls and also is releasing her own Christmas album. She had some great comments about being an alternate to a celebrity and about the need to return to real music. I also loved talking to her because she's also from the Raleigh area of North Carolina! You can read that interview here.

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday! It seems like this fall is flying by and it will be December before you know it.

1) Speaking of December, Tony Howell put up his gift guide geared towards creative people. If you love doing your Christmas shopping a bit early like I do, this is amazing!

2) Has anyone else seen the Murder on the Orient Express movie yet? Leslie Odom Jr. gave such an incredible performance in it! I love this "Which Murder on the Orient Express Character are You?" quiz from Buzzfeed.

3) Some of the biggest news on Broadway this week is that Come From Away is being made into a film!

4) Full casting and US transfer dates have been announced by the Old Vic production of A Long Day's Journey into Night. I am definitely planning on trying to get a ticket to see it!

5) I was lucky enough to be at Carolyn Maitland's #SongsChosenByYou concert at the Zedel a couple of weekends ago. West End Video put up this video of her jazzy rendition of "Proud of Your Boy" from Aladdin and it's stunning.

What I Did This Week: November 6-12

Last week was an exciting week because it was my Reading Week -- a week meant to give you time to catch up on reading and start planning on essay. Well, I don't think any of my classmates or I thought it meant that...a lot of people in my program went traveling, while I explored some of London and took a day trip out to Brighton!

On Monday, I got to help out BroadwayWorld at a press junket for Glengarry Glen Ross. You can watch the video put together from the footage I worked on here. (And yes, I met Christian Slater and he was incredibly nice.)

Corinne and I went to see the Royal Shakespeare Company Coriolanus at the Barbican, where it transferred to after its run in Stratford-upon-Avon. We were actually both quite unimpressed with the production; it seemed a bit lackluster and tame for such a bloody, exciting play.

I also went back to see Venus in Fur again with my friend Rhiannon. The play definitely seems even better now than it did the first time around and I am still floored by Natalie Dormer and David Oakes. It was quite the experience to see it from the front row! You can read my review from the first time I saw the show here

This week I also did an interview with two of the stars of the Hackney Empire panto this year, Cinderella. They were both absolutely lovely and I'm looking forward to seeing the panto to review it for BroadwayWorld next week. You can read the interview here

I don't often go to the cinema to see a film (they're expensive these days!), but I had to go to see Murder on the Orient Express. I absolutely loved the book by Agatha Christie when I read it in September and I'll see anything directed by Kenneth Branagh. I was so impressed by this movie, especially the performances by Branagh, Michelle Pfeiffer, Leslie Odom Jr., and Daisy Ridley. I will definitely be buying the DVD for this one.

Heritage Sites
I had my orientation and first shift at the Charles Dickens Museum this past week. I absolutely love this little museum that is located in the only surviving London residence of author Charles Dickens. It's a charming little museum and has an impressive amount of Dickens's belongings, including the only piece of his clothing known to have survived. I highly recommend a visit if you're ever in London and not just because I'm a volunteer there.

I went to the Banqueting House for the first time this past week. It's one of the Historic Royal Palaces so I get in for free on my membership. If you're a member, I would definitely recommend going because it's gorgeous and quite interesting. However, as it's only really two rooms I'm not sure that I would recommend going if you had to pay the fee to get in. However, it's definitely beautiful and has a great audio guide. The structure is the only surviving part of the Palace of Whitechapel. You can see more photos in my blog post about it here.

Like I said, I went out to Brighton for the day on Friday and went to the Royal Pavilion there. As a matter of fact, I ended up buying a membership so that I can go back! It's a fascinating palace with its Indian-inspired exterior and Chinese-inspired interiors. The exhibits center around its two most important residents, George IV (who lived there when he was Prince Regent) and Queen Victoria. It also has a fascinating history as a hospital for Indian soldiers during World War I.

I wasn't sure what category to put this under, but I attended a special performance for Remembrance Day on Sunday at the National Portrait Gallery. "In Remembrance" was a performance of World War I poetry and songs by four actors. It was a great experience and felt nice to do something to commemorate the holiday.

What I Did This Week: October 30-November 5

I'm excited to announce a new series for this blog called What I Did This Week. I was reading Jim Chapman's blog and he does a weekly post called "What I Got Up To." Now, I won't be sharing all that I'm doing because you can find that on my London blog, but I wanted to share with you all of the cultural events and sites that I visit each week.

I thought it might be nice for anyone who wants to or is planning on moving to London to see what the city has to offer in terms of heritage and arts. It will also be a place for me to share the reviews I write for BroadwayWorld. I'll normally be posting on Sundays or Monday mornings, but this week's just got a little behind.

Diary of a Nobody, King's Head Theatre
On Thursday, I saw the delightful Victorian comedy Diary of a Nobody at the King's Head Theatre up by Angel Islington. It's an impressive little shown with four actors playing 45 characters. It was actually my first show as a member of the press and you can read my full review for BroadwayWorld UK here.

West End Wilma Awards
On Friday, I got to attend the fourth annual West End Wilma award show. Run by one of the most successful theatre blogs, it's a great time for people from all areas of the industry to come together and enjoy a fun afternoon in the lovely events space in the Prince of Wales Theatre. There's nothing like realizing that you're sat in front of Rachel Tucker only when she stands up to get her award.

Rob Houchen at the Theatre Café 
While I went to Rob Houchen's EP launch the weekend before, I also couldn't resist going down to see his small set at the Theatre Café. I highly recommend you check out Rob's new album, "Within Reach," on iTunes. (I'm actually listening to it as I write this.) Rob's got a lovely voice and he's also proven himself to be a great songwriter.

St Albans Cathedral 
On Sunday, I went out to St Albans to visit a friend of mine who's also an Elon alumna. She showed me around the charming town and the cathedral where she works. I also hear St Albans Cathedral cited as a great day trip from London and I couldn't agree more. Only a half hour outside of London and surrounded by a delightful town full of fun shops and restaurants, the cathedral has a history that dates back to Roman times. I put up lots of photos and recounted as much of her tour as I could remember in my blog post.

Friday Internet Finds

Can you believe that it's already November? It feels like October absolutely flew by.

1) Want to take a quiz that will tell you which Disney Princess would play you in a movie about your life? Of course you do!

2) I found a super helpful website called "How Long to Read This" where you can enter a book title and it tells you how long on average it takes to read it. Useful for readings for school or just when you want to know how long a book will take.

3) The Lion King on Broadway has made the first Broadway show themed Snapchat filter. You can download it from the link in this article about it. (I'm not saying I sent a bunch of lip-synch snaps of me singing along to "Shadowland" with the Nala filter on, but...)

4) Speaking of The Lion King, this article talks about a cast member who has been in the show since it opened 20 years ago. So impressive!

5) I love the Broadway.com 'Character Study' features that they're doing lately and this one of Gardar Thor who plays the Phantom in the Love Never Dies tour is especially interesting because you get to see his makeup and hair being done for the role.


November Goals

Happy November! Since they don't have Thanksgiving here in London obviously, as far as I'm concerned the Christmas season starts today...

Goal Update - October Goals

1) Find a part-time job. This is something that I'm still working on. I found a volunteer position as a Room Steward at the Charles Dickens Museum, which I am so excited about! I've applied to a few other volunteer positions and have also given a resume to almost every West End theatre in hopes of finding a Front of House job. So fingers crossed that November is the month that something works out!

2) Film some videos and figure out a new set-up. I'm very happy that I've figured out a set-up that works (at least for now) and have gotten a new tripod. In the month of October, I uploaded EIGHT videos to my YouTube channel and gained fourteen subscribers.

3) Stay on top of my reading list. I actually managed to keep up with all my reading for class somehow despite sometimes feeling like I was drowning in it.

4) Do something with a friend at least twice a week. I've made so much progress in the month of October with making friends. I've gotten together with multiple friends, eaten lunch with my classmates often, and even had a sleepover with Corinne.

November Goals

1) Apply to internships. I have already started applying to internships and placements for the spring, but I have many more applications left to do and more internships to find.

2) Catch up on show reviews on my blog and YouTube channel. I've fallen quite behind in my reviewing and need to catch up and then attempt to keep up during the month of November.

3) Learn more about Charles Dickens. This month, I start my position as a volunteer Room Steward at the Charles Dickens Museum and yet I've read astoundingly little Dickens in my time. I've recently bought a book about Dickens and A Tale of Two Cities and I have the DVD of Great Expectations on its way to me.

4) Keep my succulents alive. This might seem silly but one of my succulents died earlier this week and it made me so sad! I'm determined to keep her replacement alive, so here's to hoping I can do it in November.

What are your goals for November? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below. x
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