Blissful Weekends: London

West End theatre, some say, equates to New York’s Broadway theatre; many believe that it exceeds it. No matter, its history can be legitimately traced to 1663 with the opening of Theatre Royal at Drury Lane followed throughout the centuries with many other small theatres such the Criterion, the Savoy and Theatre Royal Haymarket. In current times, “Theatreland,” is London’s main theatre district located in the West End of central London: bordered to the south by The Strand, the north by Oxford Street, the west by Regent Street and finally on the east by Kingsway.

Most of these theatres reflect the Victorian or Edwardian age with luxurious exterior facades and interiors with very detailed decoration; audience facilities tend to be small and cosy.

London show and hotel accommodations can be expensive, particularly on weekends. There are few cheap hotels in the heart of the West End; however, within a brisk walk there are plenty of bed and breakfasts. If one is willing to step up to four and five stars, it is easy to find deluxe West End accommodations to impress and be pampered in.

Booking in advance is important for individual theatres; for example, The 39 Steps staged at the Criterion remains available until 20 October 2012. Keeping audiences laughing since 2006, this comedy is the story of a London gentleman who becomes involved in flight across Scotland in pursuit of answers to a murder committed in his apartment.

Booking is available until 27 October 2012 for Legally Blonde The Musical at the Savoy on the Strand. This is the story of the all-American girl who is dumped by her boyfriend because she is not serious enough. She responds by heading to Harvard Law School, proving that one’s first task is to be true to the self. Based on the movie, this musical has earned multiple Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations during its Broadway run and is now in its second year in London.

During the holidays, the Theatre Royal Haymarket presents The Lion in Winter, the story of a Christmas celebration that leads to war. One Man, Two Guvnors can be booked until 15 September 2012 providing the theatre-goer a classic comedy of food, money and sex. This comedy has been around awhile, proving very successful at the National Theatre and before that on Broadway.

Going full circle back to the beginning of theatre history in the West End one must both view the Theatre Royal at Drury Lane and attend a performance in this oldest of Theatreland’s venues. The building is the fourth presiding at the same location; the first was built during the English Restoration but burned down in 1672. It was rebuilt in 1674, larger and finer. It was 120 years before number three was built on the same location lasting only 15 years before it, too, was destroyed by fire. Today’s theatre opened in 1812 and is currently owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber, normally but not always hosting musicals. Shrek The Musical is currently playing at this venerated old theatre and is expected to close 21 October 2012.


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