Yesterday we rested. I have been having extreme allergy symptoms. This seems to be caused by the air pollution. Cyclists are now buying mini-gas masks to wear for their commute. I’m doubling down on antihistamines and looking forward to France.
We ran over the The Old Vic in the morning to buy day-of-performance half price tickets for High Society. After lounging all day we went to dinner at Wahaca, a Mexican restaurant with a unique British spelling of the name. The food was terrific, reasonably priced, and served with a smile by our Lithuanian waitress. She’s in graduate school studying public policy. What a great start to the evening!
The Old Vic was built in 1818 and has been the home of the National Theater and a Shakespeare company featuring stars such as John Gielgud, Alec Guinness, Peggy Ashcroft, Richard Burton, and Judi Dench. The list goes on and on. However the theater hit some bad times in the 90’s and was saved from becoming a pub at the last minute. In 2003 it reopened with Kevin Spacey as the Artistic Director. This is his last season and last production in that role.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with High Society, it is based on the Philadelphia Story. Cole Porter’s music was added to make it a musical in 1956 starring Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Grace Kelly. Since then it was adapted to the stage. This production was performed in the round, which made us (the audience) part of the party. The entire story takes place over the course of less than 24 hours and involves a long wild party. The singing was fantastic, the dancing great fun, and the musicians unbelievable. Some actors took the stage and mingled as guests with audience members for 15 minutes before the show. A grand piano sat center stage. Champagne was being served, but we did not partake.
The show began with the piano player sitting down and greeting us. Then he asked people to shout out names of songs. He made witty comments about the selections. (Jean shouted La Vie en Rose and he said something like oh, French.) After perhaps a dozen songs had been shouted he calmly said he was sorry but he didn’t know any of them. At that point he proceeded to extemporaneously play a composition including the motifs from every song requested from the Ride of the Valkyries through the Muppet Song and Moonlight Sonata to La Vie en Rose. We all laughed as he seamlessly moved through the melodies. This was the beginning to an evening of great music.
When the story began the jokes, pratfalls, singing and dancing swept us into their party. The characters freely entered and exited through the audience and the jazz band played from the center balconies. It was thrilling and the end brought a rousing and well-deserved ovation from the audience.
Today we are going to visit a big public market in Southwarks.