As anyone who has read my blog knows, Mummy and I do enjoy a good adventure. We also like stage shows. We do like food too. So when we go off adventuring and it includes not only a show but yummy eats too, we feel like we have hit the jackpot!
One such trip was into London to see Chess, and to have dinner at Prezzo afterwards.
Off we popped on the train, which thankfully is direct to London Victoria because our adventuring doesn’t really like changing trains. Or tubes.
We gave up on public transport when we got off the train in London. It was absolutely heaving and the idea of fighting through all those people to get on a tube and tunnel our way under London didn’t appeal to either of us. We jumped into a black cab and high five’d our great idea of seeing a bit of London en route to the theatre.
It really isn’t as far as you would think from Victoria to the London Coliseum. You go past Buckingham Palace…
Under the Arches with the marine man statue…
Past Trafalgar Square…
And then you’re there at the spectacular Coliseum. I can only imagine how in awe people must have been back in the early 1900’s when this opened. Even today the architecture stands out. It is so intricate that people literally stand for ages to drink it in.
After taking far too many photos (again), it was time for the main event. Seeing Michael Ball in Chess!
I hadn’t got a clue what this show was about. A few months back Mum called and asked if I fancied going. I didn’t pay much attention to what she was saying. I just heard her ask if I wanted to see a show, which I am always going to reply yes to. She then said Michael Ball was starring in it and even if I had to cancel other plans, it was going to happen! I have been a fan since Eurovision in 1992.
I learnt lots of things that day.
Firstly, that Benny and Bjorn from Abba were two of the creators, alongside Tim Rice. He normally works with Andrew Lloyd Webber, in case you can’t place the name.
Secondly, thanks to the chatty lady who sat next to me whose daughter was in the orchestra, I know that this 5 week run was the first time that the show had been done with a full orchestra, and they were really very excited about hearing their vision come fully to life.
Thirdly, that Chess is literally about a chess tournament. Or two, anyway. It’s also based on a real life situation.
Fourthly, (is that a word?), that I really don’t have any knowledge of the conflict between Russia and the rest of the world. I also have very little interest.
So, what can I say about this show?!
The set was quite funky and Michael Ball’s performance was amazing!
He and costar Tim Hower, really were very good in their roles as the two chess geeks. Naturally I think Michael Ball was the better of the two. Even with a serious make-under, having gained a few lbs, and being a little older now, you can see the sparkle in his eyes and that voice just lifts. I think I audibly sighed at one point because he sang something so perfectly.
Mum didn’t like Tim Hower’s voice, but I thought he sang it just right for the role. The guy he is playing is a brash American who has a god complex and an alcohol dependency issue. It’s meant to be raw and aggressive and showy.
One HUGE let down was Alexandra Burke. She played the wife of the Russian chess guy and I am thankful that it was only a small part. While she could sing and it was all in tune, her voice was categorically not suitable for the role or the show. I understand that people always strive to bring something of themselves to everything they do, she should have dialed it down. A lot. The Whitney Houston style wobbling of her voice at every long held note was dreadful. As was her rounding out and practically swallowing back of the words.
Sadly one of the most beautiful and iconic songs of the show was absolutely massacred by Burke’s inability to put her ego aside and just sing. “I Know Him So Well” was of course made globally famous by Elaine Page and Barbara Dickson, who are undoubtedly two of the most talented women to ever tread the boards. It is a very hard act to follow and I understand that. But it was just horrific. The other lady, Cassidy Janson, did her best but she just didn’t have the power to counteract the noise coming from Burke. It was such a shame.
I literally have no clue why she was cast in this role and I severely hope she never tries her hand at a stage show again, unless it’s specifically written for her type of singing. She doesn’t have the talent to try and cross genres. She also cannot act.
Anyway, that’s my rant over. The rest of the show was really quite interesting and I’m glad I’ve seen it. I wouldn’t rush back or listen to the score again, but I am pleased we went. Mostly because of Michael Ball, admittedly. I did toy with the idea of a little post show stalking, but figured it would be a waste of time as we were at the matinee and I couldn’t’ see people nipping out for a pint between that and the evening performance!
There was only one thing left to do. Eat!
We walked up and down the road a bit, but decided that Prezzo was easiest. Mum has been to several of them and never had a bad meal. That was enough to convince me. That and the fact it was right in front of us by that point!
It was a tough time of day to go, but I cannot fault the staff. It was hugely busy with a real mix of theatre goers and people just finishing work. Although there was a small wait for the table, we weren’t ignored or overlooked at all.
When we were eventually seated and ordered, we set about people watching. We were categorically not not disappointed by the human unicorn/fairy daydreamer that was sat next to us. Her and her decidedly butch female friend made for an odd couple. I’m not sure that the Unicorn Fairy knew she was on a date though. I am not actually convinced she knew what planet she was on. It was incredibly hard to not stare, but harder still to not correct the ever flowing misinformed garbage coming from the date’s mouth. She was one of those who knew everything and would forcibly get you to agree that she was right.
I love London!!
Our food arrived much to the delight of Unicorn Fairy who was confused as to why she was there again, prompting her to look at the menu and still not make a decision. Butch lady decided she wanted the same as me. I was a bit scared she may start a conversation so stuffed the first of a great many mouthfuls of pasta into my face at break neck speed!
It was delicious! I love pasta but cannot made a decent pasta sauce to save my life. Especially an arrabiata. It is such a huge treat when a restaurant have gluten free pasta on the menu. I ate as much as I could and was very happy indeed.
Mum ordered the carbonara again. She was, as always, very kind and let me try a piece. It very nearly gave me food envy! I much prefer the tomato dishes to the creamy ones though, so she was saved from me trying to convince her to switch!
As we skipped lunch AND we didn’t have a starter, we decided to be a bit piggy and to order a gluten free margarita pizza. My logic is sound for this. It is just the same as ordering a garlic pizza bread on the side. It was very nice but pretty much exactly the same as the one I had in December at Ask Italian in Winchester. I think they must use the same suppliers or something.
As you can imagine, by this point we were a little full of plumptiousness! We decided that we would have a little walk over to Trafalgar Square and be tourists, then get a taxi back to the train station.
It was a great idea as it turns out! I haven’t walked around there for an age, and really enjoyed looking at the different things. Ok, mostly I enjoyed taking photos but that’s the norm. Mum read things while I did that, and the extra bit of our adventure began….