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November London Blues

November 24, 2010

The West End in general seems to be having them. First, I was quite disappointed that “Flashdance” will only get a 4 month run at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Like “Love Never Dies” (of which more in a moment) it was a musical that would have benefitted from somebody being able to underwrite a few extra months of work and then workshopping (trial performances in front of invited guests) to iron out the last few wrinkles. What’s currently on the stage, though, is quite worth a look – particularly for dance fans and those who enjoy a good central performance. Snap up those discounted tickets now.

And then there is “Love Never Dies.” Unlike many online writers, this was a show I REALLY enjoyed. It has problems, but none insurmountable… and the music, cast and staging are terrific. Still, this week it is closed for more changes to be introduced (it has been evolving ever since it opened; this is now a bit of a chance to make even more, apparently) and the results will emerge by Friday.

Rather amusingly, there have also been unfounded rumours and suggestions that a third “Phantom” show should be written. The bad news is that it got me thinking… “Love Dies In The End” is set in 1944 England. Following the tradition – set in “Love Never Dies” – of playing with time and ages, this time we see a middle-aged Gustave checking his decrepit mother Christine into a retirement home somewhere on the Cornish coast. There, a masked old soldier (assumed deformed and rebuilt in the trenches by the ‘Guinea Pig Club’) is resident odd-job man and assistant to ancient Mrs Geary, who owns the place.

Her daughter Meg leads nightly singing at the piano in the residents’ lounge, and on the side entertains elderly military men who prefer the more mature lady. This entertainment (male, not piano) keeps the whole business afloat.

Mysteriously too, rooms are always vacant, and the turnover of residents is high… some hear ghostly music before they vanish, leaving only a pair of carpet slippers in front of their bedroom mirrors or by the lake in the grounds.

Friction soon builds between Christine and Meg as Christine begins to usurp Meg’s place at the piano. More annoyingly, the odd-job man / assistant seems to be fixing the weekly bingo sessions, as Christine becomes luckier and luckier each week.

Tensions build until a gripping VE Day finale, when Christine tragically chokes on a pork pie (made by Meg) at the VE day celebration party.

Well, it’s a thought anyway…

Oh, and just to finish: Kudos to the company who run the box office for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Booked my tickets for the season yesterday. They were having a bit of computer trouble, yet dealt with it brilliantly – holding my favourite seats until the system came online again, then phoning me to confirm it. Tickets emailed as I replaced the handset. Perfect. Now all I have to do is hope for a dry summer.

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