No Biz like Show Biz, pt. 2

As promised, here’s the continuation post to “No Biz like Show Biz, pt. 1.” Below, I review the next three shows that I was fortunate enough to see when I studied abroad in London.

The fourth show (and second non-musical) that I saw was the very funny and very British play, “The Audience.” This play fictitiously chronicled the Queen’s weekly, private audiences with her prime ministers through the years. I’d have to say that this was definitely the most high-brow play I saw in London and I was worried that my lack of knowledge of British politics would prevent me from understanding and enjoying the play. Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about. I loved it! Best of all, I got to see the fantabulous Dame Helen Mirren play the role of Queen Elizabeth II. Even from the very last row of the theatre, I was starstruck.


Who’da thunk that I’d get to see an American musical classic like “Singin’ in the Rain while I was abroad? I sure didn’t, but I did. I knew the title song and I’d seen the clip of Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds singing and dancing to “Good Morning,” though I had no idea what the movie was really about, so I resolved to see the play. It was the hilarious and sweet love story of a film star and a theatre actress at the time when film was transitioning from silent to talkies. The singing and dancing was great, but the most awe-inspiring thing for me was the rain. Yes, it rained in the theatre.


As I had written in my intro to part 1 of this post, my time in London afforded me the opportunity to see my very first ballet. The one I got to see was the English National Ballet’s Ecstasy and Death. (Do I know how to pick ’em or what?) It was a very passionate and engaging ballet, separated into three individual parts. I had the misfortune of pulling an all-nighter the night before, so I dozed off for a little bit.Though, everything I managed to see was absolutely amazing. More than anything, the delicate balance of power and grace that each dancer showed was hypnotic. They were utilizing muscles that I doubt I even have. All in all, it was my first, but definitely not my last ballet.

No Biz like Show Biz, pt. 1

London is theatre heaven. No really, if you were to ask a thespian or theatre-lover what heaven looks like, their description will sound eerily like the West End. As someone who can appreciate a good play or musical, I made it a point to see as many shows as possible, while I’m here in London. So far, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing five shows, with the addition of a very original ballet. The ones I’ve seen all had their merits, though one in particular wasn’t quite on the “cultural” level of the others. (I’ll explain a bit later.)

39 steps.jpg

The first show I got to see was “The 39 Steps” at the Criterion Theatre. It was based on the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name, but much funnier. After seeing the film in class, I was required to see the play and, I must say, it was one of the best required viewings I’ve ever had the privilege of being forced to see. The play had only four actors playing all of the characters, so it was very inventive in its storytelling, from using hats to denote character changes to utilizing shadow puppets. The play also poked fun at the many conventions present in Hitchcock films (the blonde, the MacGuffin, the “wrong man”). All in all, it was an amazing show.


The  second show I saw was “Viva Forever,” which I will affectionately refer to as “the Spice Girls Musical.” The show utilized the majority of the Spice Girls’ musical catalog to tell the story of a girl named Viva and her best friends who are trying to achieve fame as a singing group. It definitely wasn’t a cultural theatre experience, but it was a cute and funny musical that would appeal to any Spice Girls fan. (Like me!)




The third show that I saw, which still stands as the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen on a stage in my life was “Matilda, the Musical.” OH. MY. GOODNESS. Everything about this musical interpretation of the Roald Dahl classic was perfect. The setting was beautiful. The choreography was intricate and fabulous. The songs were well-written and memorable. Best of all, the children in this musical were some of the most brilliant performers I’ve ever experienced, especially the little girl who played Matilda. “Matilda” was a phenomenal show and I would whole-heartedly suggest that anyone and everyone go see it immediately!


Playing Catch-Up

As you can probably tell, I haven’t been keeping up with my blog as much as I would have liked to. Being the naturally introspective and retrospective person that I am, I made it a personal goal of mine to focus on living in the moment while I studied abroad in London. I definitely succeeded in that, but it unfortunately translated into the lack of blog posts you see before you.

But alas, I’ve had so many amazing experiences abroad and I am determined to share them with you. Even if that means blogging about London well after I return to the US (which is very likely considering that I leave London THIS SATURDAY, 27/4), it shall be done!

So, here’s my plan of action:

  1. I will be writing 3 more new blog posts by mid-May.
  2. Seeing as how a picture is considered equivalent to, more or less, a thousand words, it might be a good idea for me to post a few photoblogs of my travels and experiences.
  3. Introduce a “Retrospectives” category to this blog where I will, you guessed it, address some of my abroad experiences in retrospect.

Hopefully, these upcoming posts will help in providing a more accurate picture of what study abroad has meant to me, what I’ve learned from it, how much I’ve grown from it, and whether or not I’d ever consider spending another extended amount of time abroad again in the near future. (Sneak preview/Spoiler: The world, the true meaning of being a “global citizen,” a lot, and HECK YES!!!)


It’s been a while. A seriously long while. A whole month, to be exact, since I last made a full-length post. My apologies. February was a whirlwind of a month; I traveled, I took finals for my 5-week mini semester, I traveled some more, and I began my internship.

It would be most ridiculous of me to even attempt to condense all that’s happened this month into a neatly-packaged 350-word blog post, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I just LOVE a challenge. So, here we go:

  • The first weekend of February, I had the privilege of taking a trip to Scotland. What an amazing country! After soaking in its breathtaking beauty and rich history, my love and respect for Scotland is indescribable. Yay Caledonia!
  • Having to write final papers and study for exams definitely forced me to put the “study” back in “study abroad” a couple of weeks ago. I was surprised at how quickly the first section of my program came to an end, but I was excited to soon be turning over a new leaf.
  • In the break after finals and before my internship began (meaning: last week Wednesday-Sunday), I spent a glorious 5 days in Italy. My group was based in Florence, but took day trips to both Rome and Venice. The food and drink were spectacular, as were the sights. In my mind, I haven’t left.
  • On Monday, I began what will certainly be my favorite academic course of the semester: “British Youth Culture from 1950 to the Present.” We spent the majority of our first class discussing the Beatles and the Who and planning a trip to a museum’s upcoming David Bowie exhibit. Amazing.
  • Last, but not least, I started my internship at Sarah Radclyffe Productions on Tuesday. I absolutely love it. I’m enamored with it. So far, I’ve read and written coverage for two feature-length screenplays and attended a short film showcase to scope out talent; And it’s only Thursday!
And there you have it! My entire month of February in a 350-word nutshell.


Special Edition -isms: Scotland-isms

I had the great fortune of spending last weekend in Scotland. It was amazing! I’ll be posting  a detailed account of my experiences very soon, but until then, here are a couple of words and phrases I picked up in Scotland:

  • Caledonia– the Latin name for Scotland, given by the Romans
  • Wee– small or tiny
  • Haggis– the national dish of Scotland made of sheep heart, liver, and lungs (I tasted a wee bit.)
  • Philamore– the 7-meter long predecessor to the modern kilt
  • Hairy Coos– Highland cattle, literally “hairy cows”
  • NEDs– Non-Educated Delinquents

“The Circle Line will be the bane of your existence in London.”

Oh, the infamous Circle Line.

I’ve been in London for little more than two weeks and I already have stories, horror stories– Actually, it’d probably be more accurate to call them “unfortunate inconvenience stories”- about the London Underground. More specifically, the Circle Line.

I was first made aware of this troublesome tube line during an orientation lecture that took place within my first few days of being in London. A professor who was to speak about the economic history of England (zzzzz) began his speech by informing us that the London Underground was celebrating its 150th birthday this year, making it the oldest subway system in the world. He spoke of how amazing it is and how Boston’s subway line (the #2 subway system in the world) was based largely on the London original. This was relevant because my study abroad program is through Boston University.

Then he went on a 2-minute mini-rant about the Circle Line and how it could use some improvement, in which he uttered the very words quoted in the title of this blog post. Being that this is the only part of his lecture that I remembered, I took it as a personal challenge to one day go to my local tube station and experience the infamous Circle Line.

That day came the following Friday. Two friends and I decided to hop on the Circle Line on our way back from a test run to my tentative internship placement the day before my interview. (I got the position, by the way.)  It started off like any normal tube ride would, but it continued and continued and continued and continued. The ride home was probably twice as long as the ride there. It was ridiculous. Fortunately, we weren’t in a rush or else we would’ve certainly been late to wherever we were heading to.

Since then, I’ve been on the Circle Line two more times and each time was more unfortunately inconvenient than the last. The most recent time, the train was stuck at a 20-minute standstill at the stop right before my own. Needless to say, I both support and confirm the professor’s stance on this tube line.

My hope for it is that when the London Underground closes its eyes to make a wish on the candles of its 150th birthday cake, it wishes for a more efficient Circle Line. And I hope with all my heart that it comes true.

For those curious: a visual of the Circle Line via Wikipedia. Its shape is a simple loop with a tail.

The Adjustment Period: Week 1

I had to do it.

I’ve officially been in London for a full week and what an eventful week it was! As soon as the plane landed, I hit the ground running. (Literally, it was really cold and I would’ve died of hypothermia if I stayed in one place for too long.) Time would fail me to go over every tourist attraction, restaurant/cafe/pub/club, and awkward small talk I’ve experienced over the past seven days, but let’s just agree that there were ample amounts of each.

My adjustment to life in London is happening slowly, but surely. For one thing, I’m getting more and more comfortable crossing London streets, where drivers drive (rapidly) on the left side of the road. I’m also getting acclimated to the weather, namely the cold and perpetual grey skies. What I’m having the most trouble getting used to is the 5-hour time difference between here and home. Communicating with my family has to be a carefully orchestrated event, otherwise I’ll call them too early in the morning or they’ll call me too late in the evening. We’re definitely getting the hang of it, though.

My study abroad program is housed in the very upscale South Kensington district of London. To give an idea of just how posh it is, my flat is located across the street from three major British museums: the Natural History Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Science Museum. Not to mention, on any given day I pass by a flurry of luxury cars, 5-star hotels, and cultural institutions on my way to and from class.

As beautiful as South Kensington is, I feel that it’s giving me a skewed vision of what London is really like. So, over the next few months, my goal is to explore and experience all that London has to offer: the posh, as well as the un-posh.

London-isms of Prior Knowledge

I noted that I went to London for a week when I was in the 8th grade. While I was there, I kept a journal of the eventful things that I got to do and see. I also wrote down a few of the London-isms I picked up during that week. Here they are:

  • Knakid– tired
  • Toilets/Loo– bathroom
  • Tube– subway
  • Chips– french fries
  • Crisps– chips
  • Fanny (as in “fanny pack”)- a female body part not synonymous with butt