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Theatremonkey, Inside Guide To London Theatre

June 2, 2010

That’s what the original website set out to do. Since then, as Rogers and Hammerstein put it so well, “if you become a teacher, by the pupils you are taught.” Certainly true in my case. It is amazing what you learn, even from something as simple as sales patterns.

For example, my last blog entry speculated on how well Danielle’s casting as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” was received. Now the monthly numbers are in, all I can say is that she’s lookin’ good! Outselling nearest competitor “Love Never Dies” by a ratio of nearly 1.5 to 1; and even holding up well against a historic comparison with initial sales of Lee Mead’s Joseph tickets. Those sold a bit  better – simply because they were a lot cheaper – but still… the West End is in a bad place at the moment, and at least two shows are doing OK. Phew.

The book is doing fine too. Another satisfied reader posted a review at Amazon.co.uk, and Canterbury Waterstone’s now has copies available. Finchley Road branch re-ordered too; and I’ve just signed another large pile for visitors to Dress Circle in Monmouth Street.

While on that subject, I was there last week as part of the weirdest morning I’ve spent in the West End for some time (possibly since meeting Mr P, in fact). A couple of weeks back I was approached by an overseas journalist wanting to do a feature on London Theatre. An hour’s chat was suggested, and I agreed as of course it helps the story, and – being honest – both book and website.

In the end, the ‘hour’s chat’ became a two hour manic dash between two photo locations (a theatre somebody was kind enough to lend me, and Dress Circle shop), with stops at various buildings in between. ‘One journalist’ became a journalist, an excellent professional photographer, and a photographer’s model to whom I was supposedly explaining “the inside secrets of West End Theatre” (as the vicar said to the actress). From that I learned that I was right not to embark on a modelling career myself. Not only do I photograph like a warped plank (already knew that), but I also found out that I don’t have any patience for photographers whatsoever.

More important – coming over all Carrie Bradshaw here – in seeking to show somebody the ‘inside secrets’ of an industry I love, I think I found out another secret myself…

Nothing was planned that morning, except use of the two locations – and within them just a foyer, a private room and a shop sales floor. On the day, sheer kindness took us far beyond that. Moving between the two places, further spontaneous meetings with people I’ve met through the site added extra colour.

Every single theatrical person the group encountered dealt brilliantly with my demented tour. Despite having no advance warning, all willingly gave their valuable time and help – leaving my party amazed and delighted.  The secret of West End theatre? Its generosity and wanting to do the very best it can to entertain whenever it can. Who knew? Wow.

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