I took the train into London yesterday and spent some time at the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square. It’s a wonderful collection and I used the strategy of identifying individual works I wanted to see and going straight for them. There was no browsing an entire room; I just hit my "best of" choices: Botticelli, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh, and so forth. This was a good approach, partly due to the very accessible layout of the museum, and I avoided the "museum fatigue" that can occur when you try to take in too much at one shot.
For a late lunch, I strolled down to the Porterhouse Pub in Covent Garden, a nice place with more brass fittings (even the air ducts) than I’ve ever seen under one roof. They have a good selection of ales and decent food and I quite enjoyed my meal and the ambiance.
Then I was off to the nearby Garrick Theatre for the matinee of Zorro! The Musical. I’m usually pretty picky about seating but let myself buy a third-row center seat for this one and found myself in the thick of it. I actually had to turn sideways to see some of the action at the ends of the curved stage and I missed most of Zorro’s slide down a rope from high in the middle of the house to the stage. But no matter, it was still a fun and energetic show. Lots of rope swinging, sword-fighting, and special effects and, from my close vantage point, I could see it all clearly.
I could see too much, in fact. The leads in a show like this wear wireless microphones, with the actual tiny microphone usually set just in the hairline above the forehead and invisible. In this production, however, the flesh-colored mikes were worn down an inch onto the foreheads, so everyone looked like they had a wart on their forehead! Maybe from 10 rows back it wasn’t noticeable.
The cast put a lot of energy into their dancing and singing but, sadly, I thought the songs were a bit weak (music by The Gypsy Kings) and didn’t do the cast justice. As director, I would have trimmed several songs and dances out of the nearly 3-hour production. But all in all, it was a good show. In London, matinees often start at 3:00 pm, which is quite late by American standards. Moreover, with an evening show at 7:30 pm, the cast doesn’t have much time to rest in between but, to their credit, in the performance I saw the cast certainly seemed to give it their all.