West End Wendy
Are Shows The New Shoes?

This is one for the girls… And some guys too!

My Carrie Bradshaw comment on Twitter yesterday got me thinking about shoes. Like many I know, I am a self confessed shoe addict. I can’t last a shopping trip without cooing over one pair of shoes or another. Similarly, though, I can’t walk through the West End without squeeing over a show or two. So, if shows were shoes, what shoes would they be? Here’s a few of my ideas…

Let’s start with the créme de le créme of shoes. The well crafted, expensive ones that make you flinch as you hand over your credit card. You know it will be worth it, though. I would put two of London’s longest running musicals in this category - Les Miserables and The Phantom Of The Opera. On seeing these shows, you know why they have both run in excess of ten years in London. I saw Les Miserables a couple of years ago at the Queen’s theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue and I was taken aback by everything from the phenomenal talent of those on the stage to the lights and the set. It was definitely worth every single penny. I haven’t seen The Phantom Of the Opera (I know… I know… Bad Wendy!) but a good friend of mine assures me that it is also worth every penny spent.

On a down day, everyone needs a comfortable pair of shoes. A pair that will make things easier. No, they may not be the most expensive, but they put a smile on your face. These shows are some of my favourites as they do tend to have discounts available. No, the story lines may not be the best around, but the shows make you forget the world for a couple of hours and leave you with a catchy tune or two whirring around your head. I’m thinking of shows like Grease, We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia and Jersey Boys. Admittedly the last two don’t offer much by way of discounts, but they’re worth a visit for the pure feel good factor. These shows will leave you feeling more alive than twelve cans of Red Bull would, but the shows are probably better for your health!

Then there are the shoes that could go one of two ways. These are the skyscraper heels of the shoe world. The ones that you think will probably end badly but they turn out to be great. My prime example of this is Legally Blonde, currently playing at the Savoy Theatre. When I first heard Legally Blonde was becoming a musical I was sceptical to say the least, but having seen the show both in New York and London, it is a firm favourite of mine. It’s especially worth a visit to the Savoy to see the fantastic Sheridan Smith play Elle Woods.

Some shoes turn anyone in their presence into a gibbering wreck. There is only one show that I can even think about talking about here. It’s a show that many people claim changed their life, has a massive fanbase and made a star out of Idina Menzel. It has some of the most well known songs in musical theatre and sells out every day all over the world. Of course, I could only be referring to Wicked. “The Untold Story of The Witches of Oz” tells the story of the Wicked Witch Of The West (Elphaba) and the Good Witch Of The North (Glinda) in a way you could never imagine, and is guaranteed to change the way you think of the Wizard Of Oz. It really is fantastic and I recommend it wholeheartedly to any theatre fan.

So, is your shoe collection like your show collection? Tweet me @Westend_wendy and let me know your shoe/show comparisons!

It Starts!

I saw my first West End show at 15 (late starter, I know) and haven’t looked back since. The show in question was Grease, at the Victoria Palace Theatre -where Billy Elliot is now playing and has been for a number of years.

I remember everything about that first experience of something that would become very much a part of my life and my personality. When we walked into the foyer I remember not only being struck by the shiny new merchandise and the cast recording playing, but by how beautiful the building was and, something that I still notice today, THAT theatre smell. All theatres have a smell. Well, the older ones at least just have that worn smell, but it’s not unpleasant. It’s the kind of worn smell that gives you an indication of how many years that theatre has been standing there housing these amazing shows that generations before and generations after me will enjoy.

Grease was fantastic and was followed by an impromptu trip to the stage door. I don’t remember many of the actors from this show, although looking at my programme there are performers who were in Grease who I have seen in many productions since. One person I do remember meeting, though, is the lovely Hannah Waddingham. I remember thinking how friendly she was. Myself and my friend were with a couple of family friends, and those friends had got talking to the company manager, whose name I unfortunately can’t remember. He told me something that day that would come true pretty quickly - “Remember the name Hannah Waddingham, she’s going to be huge.” Now, jokes about height aside, Hannah Waddingham is now a very well known name in musical theatre, having played Lady of the Lake both in London and on Broadway amongst other things, and I still make a point of going to see anything she’s in because she was a part of that very first West End Musical experience.

I think everyone remembers their first West End show. Tell me about yours!