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It’s All Theatre, Really…

May 18, 2011

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest attracted the highest number of UK television viewers for years. Partly because two popular groups – Paradise Oskar and Loucas Yiorkas… sorry… Jedward and Blue were featured and partly, I’d suggest, because the show now has such high production standards.

A breathtaking video at the start of the broadcast showed the transformation of a dull Dusseldorf stadium into a thrilling concert arena. Then, after the songs had been sung, a further thrill for the theatrically technically minded as the whole back wall slid apart to show a ‘waiting’ area.

Combine that with some decent songs and stage work, and the result was an evening that held my attention for the full three and a half hours – Jedward or not… Proof that theatre can be used to sell anything…

Retail too, should be theatre. That was the theory of H. Gordon Selfridge, who opened his novel department store on Oxford Street, London in 1909. More than just a place to dispense goods, there were places to meet and eat, enjoy fashion shows and displays and generally be entertained. With the UK high street battling the web, greedy landlords and local traffic planners who think banning and pricing out cars is the answer to ensuring plenty of customers, it has to be theatre to which shops need to turn to survive. The Disney chain knew this, and their shops thrived while it happened… when it eased back…

The reason I’m mentioning all this is because my favourite shop on the planet, Dress Circle of Monmouth Street, London (near the Cambridge, St Martin’s, Ambassadors and Noel Coward Theatres) hit the theatrical world headlines last week with news it may have to close for most of the above reasons. Fellow shop fan Snoopmk summed the situation up brilliantly on a  blog page and it pretty much reflects my own experiences.

I’ve shopped with DC for more than 25 years, and rely on them to source difficult to find discs and provide highly specialised advice. More than that, the staff were fantastic to me and Mr P when we needed to get the book off the ground, and they are all a very special team indeed. It is a unique place, and the prices are NOT always more expensive than elsewhere (bought 4 discs on Saturday, all cheaper than online). Fantastic atmosphere, amazing stock and staff knowledge, interesting customers – the best from Sondheim to Lloyd Webber to Mackintosh all shop there… we must not lose it. Go, go, go shop please!

The theatre community are rallying round too, with one company supporting Dress Circle and four major theatrical charities, via a brand new DVD of West End Stars Elaine Paige, Jason Donovan, John Barrowman and Summer Strallen ‘in conversation.”‘ CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW or watch the  preview trailer.

Quick other news: Emma Roberts of Lovemoney.com gave the monkey a nice mention this week at Lovemoney.com too. Thanks, Emma, and your site, for your support as always.

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