Culture, Damnit! (Cont.)

The one where I take a moment to brag about who I’ve met and where I’ve been.

A direct continuation of Sunday’s post regarding life in London.  You don’t have to read that first, but if you don’t, you’re missing out on updates regarding my standard of living, classes, books I’ve read, and places I’m going.

Shows I’ve Seen

My London travels have essentially become a shmorgasboard of West End shows and who’s-who of entertainers therein…which I am 100% okay with.  Theatre is exceedingly cheap here…and fairly easy to get into, which is a concern when it comes to my finances.  I must see all the things!

I won the opportunity to see Kenneth Branagh’s closing night of The Entertainer in the first row.

Set against the backdrop of post-war Britain, John Osborneʼs modern classic conjures the seedy glamour of the old music halls for an explosive examination of public masks and private torment. Rob Ashford directs Kenneth Branagh as the unforgettable Archie Rice.

Honestly, I’m quite glad I paid what I did for these tickets.  I wasn’t that impressed with the show.  I did, however, get to meet some of the cast afterwards at Stage Door.  (Kenneth himself doesn’t stage door.  Womp wah.)

Jonah Hauer-King who played Frank Rice in Kenneth Branagh Theater Company’s The Entertainer.
Sophie McShera who played Jean Rice in Kenneth Branagh Theater Company’s The Entertainer. (She was also one of the stepsisters, Drisella Tremaine, in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella as well as kitchen maid Daisy Robinson in Downton Abbey.)

I also won the lotto to see Lazarus, the David Bowie musical, starring Michael C. Hall.

Inspired by the book, ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’, Lazarus focuses on Thomas Newton, as he remains still on Earth – a ‘man’ unable to die, his head soaked in cheap gin and haunted by a past love. We follow Newton during the course of a few days where the arrival of another lost soul – might set him finally free.

Once again, I’m quite glad that I won these and only paid the price I did.  It was definitely a unique experience, getting to sit front row…but all in all the musical itself was very strange.  I guess it had to be, to come from the mind of David Bowie.

I snuck a very against-the-rules pic before the show started.

Unfortunately, this is the only show that I’ve seen wherein I didn’t get to Stage Door.  I had plans afterwards and had to rush home (in the rain!)  I might go back, however, to see if I can get some autographs before the end of the run.

TodayTix (the ticket-selling app) had a Cyber Monday sale, so I purchased some cheap tickets for shows that I otherwise wouldn’t have seen; Ragtime and The Libertine.

It is the turn of the 20th Century in New York. An era is exploding. A century is spinning. And the people are moving in rhythm and rhyme to the music of Ragtime.


Based on true events, Stephen Jeffreys’ sharply written, comic play tells the story of the charismatic poet and playwright (Earl of Rochester portrayed by Dominic Cooper) with a legendary appetite for excess. A close friend of King Charles II, Rochester’s life of debauchery knows no bounds until headstrong actress Elizabeth Barry (Ophelia Lovibond) makes an appearance at the Playhouse. Could she finally be the one to tame him?

Ragtime was a small production in a small theater that utilized actor/musicians.  That is to say…rather than having an orchestra, the musicians were on the stage portraying different people throughout the show.  It was odd to see Harry Houdini walking around with an accordian…but there we are.

Thoroughly unimpressed with Ragtime (a musical), I approached The Libertine (a play) with trepidation.

It. Was. Wonderful.

Honestly, I wish I hadn’t waited so long to see it because I would have gleefully gone at least once more before the end of its run.  Unfortunately, with a day trip to Cambridge in the schedule, I couldn’t make a second showing work.  When I went to see it for the matinee performance, I went around to Stage Door only to discover that the cast was having a Christmas party between the shows and no one would be coming out.  Dismayed but not deterred, I returned home to eat dinner…only to come back five hours later for the sole purpose of attending Stage Door.  It was worth it.

Ophelia Lovibond as Elizabeth Barry in The Libertine. She was also Carina in Guardian of the Galaxy.
Dominic Cooper as the Earl of Rochester in The Libertine. Also appears in Preacher and as Howard Stark in most of the Marvel movies/TV shows. (Note the SHIELD scarf. 😉 )

As the year draws to an end, several shows are closing to make room for a new West End season.  One such show is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which is gradually making its way to America (and Broadway.)  As such, I simply had to go see it before it left.  I bought the cheapest seat I could find (aaaall the way up in the third balcony in the last row,) only to discover that the show isn’t doing all that well, they had closed two of the balconies, and moved me up into a seat worth roughly 4x what I had paid.  Well then.  🙂

All that said, I, once again, wasn’t all that impressed with the show as a whole.  There were a few standout performances (notably the young man who played Charlie and Mrs. Teevee,) but all in all, I’m good with seeing it once and moving on with my life.

I finally (FINALLY!) won the lotto for Kinky Boots and got to sit front row for that extravaganza.  I’ve now downloaded the entire album.  It was so much fun!

Kinky Boots takes you from the factory floor to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. Charlie Price, played by David Hunter (we had an understudy), is struggling to live up to his father’s expectations and continue the family business of Price & Son. With the shoe factory’s future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola, played by Olivier award-winner Matt Henry, a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos.

I’d recommend this musical to anyone.  It’s all about accepting people for who they are both inside and out.  There were several audience members around me who were very obviously uncomfortable at the subject matter (a man in a dress and heels, say whaaaat?) but regardless, it’s a message that needs to be expressed…especially in this day and age.

Last but not least, despite over 70 entries, I could not for the life of me, win front row seats for No Man’s Land.  The show ends in a week, so I bucked up and just went to buy a Day Seat (meaning you show up on the day of, the second the door opens, to see if they have anything they failed to sell.)  This is, by far, the most expensive show I’ve paid for (at £45 = $57)…but it was worth it for the actors I got to see on stage.

One summer’s evening, two ageing writers, Hirst (Sir Patrick Stewart) and Spooner (Sir Ian McKellen), meet in a Hampstead pub and continue their drinking into the night at Hirst’s stately house nearby.  As the pair become increasingly inebriated, and their stories increasingly unbelievable, the lively conversation soon turns into a revealing power game, further complicated by the return home of two sinister younger men.

Sir Ian McKellen as Spooner in No Man’s Land. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures “with.” Just “of.” Worth it.
Owen Teale as Briggs in No Man’s Land. He’s also Ser Alliser Thorne from Game of Thrones. He broke the no pictures “with” rule for me. Total sweetheart.  Meh.  Super blurry. 😦
Signatures from Stage Door!

Other famous people I’ve run into:

Andrew Chapelle is currently Hamilton’s swing. He has been Laurens/Philip, Jefferson/Lafayette, Mulligan/Madison, James Reynolds, King George, and Aaron Burr. He’s also a complete sweetheart.
Anthony Rapp was Mark from Rent for several years during several different productions…as well as the film version from 2006.
Anthony Rapp on stage.
Anthony Horowitz is the author of the two acclaimed young adult series’ Alex Rider and The Power of Five. He’s also written two Sherlock Holmes novels and the last James Bond novel…as well as TV and film. (He contributed some dialogue to the Into the Woods film!)

Places I’ve Visited

Whilst wandering to my local library, I stumbled upon Charles Dickens house.  So there’s that…


Additionally, I made a point to make my way to Fleet Street to find my favorite barber.

“You might find me, if you like, around Fleet Street, I wouldn’t wonder.”

On my search for things to do, I stumbled upon the Tate Modern…wherein I learned that most modern art is beyond me…

A model of the ancient Algerian city of Ghardaia made out of couscous.

…but I did get to glimpse some portraits from some famous names.

Dali, Autumnal Cannibalism
Matisse, The Snail
Jackson Pollock, Number 14
Degas, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen
Monet, Water-Lilies
Andy Warhol, Marilyn Diptych
Picasso, Weeping Woman
Picasso, Bust of a Woman

I made my way over to the Tower Bridge (at last) and walked across it (brrr!)

Which wasn’t nearly as cold as my trip to the famous tourist trap, Winter Wonderland.

Near Shaftsbury Avenue in Covent Gardens. This is not, in fact, part of Winter Wonderland…but the entire city “dresses up” for the holidays.
These arches are part of Winter Wonderland.

Finally, I could put it off no longer…I decided to do a Sherlock Holmes day.  My first stop was Speedy’s Cafe which is the cafe overwhich Sherlock Holmes and John Watson live in the most recent adaptation, BBC Sherlock.  Actually located on North Gower Street (roughly a 25 minute walk from Baker Street,) the cafe itself is cheaply priced and not all too excellent, but good enough.

Note the number on the door.  It is changed when they film BBC Sherlock.

From there, I walked over to Baker Street to visit the Sherlock Holmes museum.

Me in front of the ACTUAL 221B Baker Street.
And here I am sitting in Sherlock’s chair in the parlor/living room of the museum.

The nerd in me is thriving in London.  The Force is strong here!

Technology That’s Failed Me

My beloved iPod (lovingly named My Particularly Good Finder) has finally decided that it no longer wants to function as it should.  On a good day, it will last for one hour.  It is out of space.  I’ve started deleting playlists to make room for music I want.  I cannot do it anymore.

Luckily, the lovely Jessica found her old iPod touch and is looking into sending it my way…so salvation may currently be somewhere over the Atlantic.

Life in London is hard without music.

My phone has little to no processing power.  It can’t handle more than one app at a time…especially if that app is Pokemon.  I didn’t realize how much I took for granted with my All-American Amazing Samsung Galaxy S5…but the sad alternative Samsung Galaxy J5 simply cannot hope to compare.

I am surviving in this crazy, mixed-up world of ours.

On a more positive note, I’ve discovered a website that allows me to watch the basic six channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS, and CW) in live-time.  Delightfully, I used this to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Cowboy’s game on Thanksgiving Day, and I recorded Hairspray Live (to be viewed when I shouldn’t be writing an essay…….yes…..haven’t forgotten about that.  Still haven’t finished it.)

Mail Reminder

Send me things!  Like letters!  I love letters!  Letters are awesome!  =D

Alison Cohn
Garden Halls – Townhouse 8.14
1 Cartwright Gardens

Food I’ve Not Cooked

I still have not made an effort to attempt pumpkin pie, though I have now acquired all the necessary ingredients.

I also have a stew recipe that will have to happen at some point in the near future.

Maybe the week of Christmas (after I get back from Belgium!)  Magic might happen.  The stars MAY align!

Coming Up Next:

  • I travel to Spain and Belgium all on my own.
  • I return to London for Doctor Who and Sherlock!!!
  • Classes begin on January 9th, fascinatingly enough…the exact date my 3k word essay is due.
  • I go to see (at least) three more shows in the next month.

Author: alisonlcohn

Graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Communications Advertising. Traveled a bit. Taught for two years. Administered aptitude tests for a while. Worked as a Training Associate for Guardian Mortgage and a Quiz Master for Geeks Who Drink. Obtained my Master's in Film, Television and Screen Media in London, England. Now working as a small-group travel coordinator. Nice to meet you!

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