Tuesday, November 06, 2012

When I was, I don't know, approximately ten, I was taken down to London, trip-purpose-concealed and we ended up trotting along to the Savoy Theatre, me in my sweet little pink polyester elastically-ruched twin-set, to see 42nd Street. One of Mother's friends was playing an ageing (though I think she was approx 35 at the time) fading grande dame of the theatre, soon to be superceded by sprightly-footed whipper snapper Catherine Zeta Jones.

Attentive readers of this blog may remember how much the horribly adulterated Starlight Express upset me earlier this year.  So I trekked along to the Playhouse tonight with a slightly weary heart. Though it lifted a little when Mother declared that Her Friend had declared that the conditions of performance of this masterpiece required not very much messing on the part of the producer.

Amd happy days. Two songs aside, of which I have absolutely no recollection - and I grew up on this soundtrack also, remember - it was a pure rendition. It made me very happy.

It's a foolish Cinderella story. 'Catherine Zeta Jones' is a young hopeful. 'Mother's Friend' is ageing fading. There's a show. Pretty Lady. It's everyone's last chance. Mother's Friend (SPOILER ALERT) breaks her ankle. Catherine ZJ steps into the breach at the eleven and a half-th hour and is Amazing. The end.

The dialogue is a little limpid. The sets were touring. The costumes did their best in the limited space. The cast was as extensive as a touring cast allows. The singing was sometimes beautiful, sometimes aspirational. The band were a treat. And the tap dancing. Just sizzle-y magic.

I remember being picked up from the train station by Mother's Friend, Christina, in her Mini (can this be possible? We were four. She was one. She had a Mini.). We'd owned family vehicles by this point but never what you would call a car. And Mother didn't drive at the time. I remember being equally awe-struck by the fact that Christina was a girl driving, was a girl who had her own car, was zipping about Piccadilly Circus in the middle of giant streets-paved-with-gold London FFS (this an adult addition - I didn't think in that horrible coarse way when I was pure and ten) and not only all of that but she was an actress in THE WEST END too.

On arrival - or maybe after the show - or maybe the car journey was after the show - I stood in her dressing room in silent awe.

Maybe that's where it began.

(To save B S Neill writing a comment, yes indeed, it's a shame it didn't have more of an effect on my adult relationship with cars.)

Anyway, great show. I'll be Lullabying Broadway for weeks to come. Thanks, ATG.


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