Quirky London and quirky musicals

Off the back of Tuesday’s geektastic London transport related videos, the first offering for this week’s fun is both London-centric and informative. Taking you to 10 ‘quirky’ locations in the capital, it captured my attention for 2 reasons:
(i) It explains what goes on inside a building in Mornington Crescent that’s intrigued me since I started going past it every day aged 11.
(ii) It reveals the location of a dog cemetery in central London.
Architectural geeks may also get excited by the revelation that you can play with a giant map of London showing new developments in an office just off Tottenham Court Road.

A word of warning: it’s 2 years old now, so some of the info is a little out of date – just in case you decide to plan your weekend around its contents.

Tenuous link time… London is a great city, home of theatres that have housed some of the greatest musicals ever written and some of the world’s best musical theatre artistes. One of the best things about the MT world is that it doesn’t take itself seriously, willingly taking the mick out of itself on a regular basis. America has Forbidden Broadway, and now Britain has Michael Bruce’s Unwritten Songs.

One of these songs – Portrait of Princess – has been turned into an awesome video, featuring various stars of the West End. Snow White is Julie Atherton – last seen in Avenue Q (Trekkie Monster’s puppeteer’s also in there), while Cinderella’s none other than recently crowned ‘Best Actress in a Musical’ – Sheridan Smith. Oh, and Russell Tovey’s in it too… [Warning: it probably ought to carry a 15 certificate at least. This is no Disney musical.]

This links rather neatly with the next gem – which is miraculous and totally coincidental – and is included with much thanks to Annabelle. What’s (almost) better than a Disney parody? Why, six versions of the same man singing a Disney medley of course! It’s a perfect follow up, as the first song of the medley is in fact the Disney song that I ended up singing having watched the parody. Even if you’re not into the slightly odd phenonmenon of people singing with themself, this is well worth the watch – the captions are an added humorous bonus, and honestly, who doesn’t like Disney songs?

I ♥ Jodi Benson, Lea Salonga and Alan Menken too! Love it.

Oh, and if this has reminded you of the fabulous Sam Tsui (who I personally think is a notch or two above Disney Medley guy), have no fear – the two of them have duetted on none other than a favourite Wicked track. (I think this reveals which is the stronger singer, and it’s not the one that does all the twiddly bits…) 
Random aside fact, he also works for Disney as an animator – the links just keep getting better and better! 

Free London

London is one of the most expensive cities in the world. I enjoy (actually, that’s the wrong word, it depresses me) seeing the look of horror on non-London friends’ faces when they hear how much my rent and travel cost.

However, many of the best things in London are free: the parks, the river, observing tourists and pigeons, the people – I could go on. And, every so often you get a taste of the more expensive stuff at no cost at all. Like when West End Live takes over Leicester Square…
There are not many things in this world that get me out of the house ‘early’ (before 10.30) on a Saturday morning, but free musical theatre would be one of them. I usually avoid the rather sleazy & tacky Leicester Square area like the plague, but was more than willing to spend hours there watching the best of the West End take to the stage.
There were witches, drag queens, dirty puppets (Avenue Q made miraculously clean for a family audience), aliens, a purple dinosaur (Barney was a low-point in the day), Jerry Springer and last, but by no means least, singing nuns.
You’ve got to love singing nuns. Sister Act has now rocketed to the top of my ‘musicals I have to see very soon’ list. (And I’m on the verge of forgiving my musicals companion Annabelle for giving her spare FREE ticket to the show to her boyfriend last week, I’m not quite there yet, but maybe by next month…) Do not be put off by the lack of original music from the film, the new material rocks too.
Here’s a taste of it, courtesy of my rather shaky camera-work. (There is a moment when I get so excited by the imminent use of “stratesphere” – not a word used often in musicals – that I lose sight of the stage for a moment.) Enjoy, or download a couple of sample tracks from the show’s website.

Uh-oh, addictive personality strikes again!

At the end of last year it was facebook, now it’s youtube that’s keeping me awake to ridiculous hours of the morning. I appreciate that I’m starting my youtube addiction at least a year after everyone else – but there’s good reason. For ages my laptop didn’t really like video clips and I didn’t have a fast enough connection. Then my hard-drive crashed and once replaced, I’d lost all sound – so whilst the picture was great, there was no sound, which made the whole thing pretty pointless! Last night I picked up my new laptop and once the tedious process of installing everything was over, I swiftly headed over to youtube…

It started pretty tamely, just some Avenue Q clips of the cast doing non-Avenue Q songs:

Kate Monster & Trekkie Monster singing Popular from Wicked.
The guys doing a Take That medley.

Nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately
, things rapidly spiralled out of control when I found complete episodes of Bug Juice. This was a show all about the wonderful world of American Summer Camps, which used to get shown on channel 4 during the summer holidays, and was about the only thing that made holidays in our grandparents’ mobile home in Yorkshire bearable. (July in Yorkshire = rain and lashing winds, especially up on t’moors.) Three and a half episodes later it was after midnight and I really should’ve stopped. Except I carried on, and watched another!

And at the point where I really should have put the laptop away, I decided to look for Kids Incorporated clips, lost on a nostalgia high. British people will have virtually no knowledge of the show, which was on the Disney channel in the US – but for me and my sister it always reminds us of the time we spent in Boston whilst our parents looked after a church there. The whole concept of a show where children sing cover versions of songs was amazing as far as we were concerned. Turns out having watched a few clips from the year we were there, it wasn’t so good, but it did have Jennifer Love Hewitt in it, which made it more amusing. Has a classy theme tune too.

Think it was well after 1am by the time I actually gave in. Really do need to have more control over the addictive side of my personality… Hopefully the novelty will wear off very soon.

A song for every occasion

Avenue Q – the grown-ups’ Sesame Street – hilarious, hot actors, at times filthy and complete with songs to use in all sorts of situations.

“Purpose” – Handy for those running life-coaching seminars.

“Everyone’s a little bit racist” – It’s so true! “Everyone’s a little bit racist sometimes. Doesn’t mean we go around committing hate crimes.”

“If you were gay” – Always good should you need to get someone out of the closet.

There’s always times when you think “I wish I could go back to college”, but the bottom line is that you can’t, because: “…if I were to go back to college, think what a loser I’d be – I’d walk through the quad, and think “Oh my God…These kids are so much younger than me.”

It’s surprising how much I was able to identify with a load of puppets! (Though I can’t say I connected much with “The internet is for porn”!!) Comedy evening & I highly recommend getting seats where you can fully appreciate the hotties playing Princeton/Rod and Trekkie Monster/Nicky.