The Pajama Game Theatre Break

The Pajama Game

The Pajama Game

If you want a fabulous, old fashioned Broadway musical then choose  The Pajama Game. It is perfect for a London theatre break. The show has transferred to the West End for a limited season from the Chichester Festival Theatre. This  Richard Eyre production of the Broadway classic is currently playing at The Shaftsbury Theatre.

The critics loved it and the show is full of gems. Songs you already know and love. I can almost guarantee you will come out singing at least one of them!

The Story of The Pajama Game

Romance is in the air at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory. There is a  handsome new Superintendent (Sid Sorokin). Of course he falls madly in love with an impossible woman, who just happens to be the Union rep (Babe Williams). When the employees are refused a small pay increase, their love is sorely tested.

Will love, or loyalty to the union eventually, conquer all?

Do you really need to ask?

Just park your brain at the theatre entrance and be swept along by this riotous roller coaster of a show. This is full on Broadway at its best, with laughs, tears, tenderness, and show-stopping numbers.

It’s a classic story but with lots of laughs and tenderness and some cracking songs: Hey There, Once-A-Year Day, Hernando’s Hideaway, There Once Was A Man and Steam Heat.

My personal favourite is Hernando’s Hideaway! I’ve been singing it all round the house this morning, whilst executing a fairly dire solo tango ;-)

I have to share the Hernando’s Hideaway scene with you, it’s too good to miss:

This version is from the 1957 film, with John Raitt, Carol Haney/ Doris Day.
The song is sung by Carol Haney, not Doris Day.  I love it!

The show runs initially till early September. Everyone seems to really enjoy it so I’m hoping it will extend.

Check what’s available for Pajama Game Theatre Breaks on our Readers Offers site.

 

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London Theatre for St Patricks Day Weekend

St Patrick’s Day Weekend is very soon with the day itself on Sunday March 17th 2014. You still have time to book your St Patrick’s Day Weekend Irish themed theatre break.

Music brings them together

This St Patrick’s Day Weekend – see the magic happen

Of course if you really want to go for the full Irish then a visit to the wonderful hit musical  Once is a perfect expression of your inner Irish. Once has a touching love story, laughter and tears, great Irish music, brilliant dancing. Ideal for St Patrick’s weekend.

If soul is more your to taste then how about a visit to The Commitments? We’re still in the land of the green but this time with attitude. With lots of laughs and a high energy feel this could be a great choice, particularly for a single sex group.

See a Matinee and have Saturday Night for dancing.

Some breaks incorporate tickets for an matinee performance and this can be a great idea. They usually include a Dinner & Disco at your hotel on Saturday night and a free morning/afternoon in London on the Sunday. This is ideal for St Patrick’s Day Weekend celebrations. Take a look at London Show Stoppers our Reader’s Offers Site if you want to know more.

London goes green

London goes green and celebrates all things Irish for the weekend. Pubs dress themselves up, green beer is often on offer, there will be leprechauns, often in quite skimpy skirts! River Dance is everywhere because the theme of the parade and festival for 2014 is ‘World of Dance’!

The main event is the Sunday afternoon parade. There will be a procession of themed floats, many quite extravagant and impressive. It ends with a Irish festival in Trafalgar Square. The floats start from Piccadilly at noon, head along Lower Regent Street and Pall Mall and then down to Trafalgar Square.

You can then spend the afternoon in Trafalgar Square where there will be traditional and contemporary Irish music and dance acts. The craic will be had and it will be great fun! Big hats, green glasses and an ability to Riverdance are not obligatory.

All images of the parade cc Photos by Garry Knight

London is good at this sort of thing. West End Live has found its new home in Trafalgar Square and it is a perfect venue for this kind of free event. As well as a big temporary stage there will be huge screens and amplification so even if you are right at the back you can still see. If you decide you’ve had enough there are lots of places nearby to get ‘a coffee with a drop’ or a refreshing Guinness, maybe even a Black Velvet!

Most coach or rail theatre trips give you a free day in London on the Sunday and this is an ideal way to make the most of that time. Remember though, if St Patrick’s Day Weekend is not your sort of thing, there are always things to do in London on a Sunday!

 

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The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is a wildly irreverent musical from the team who made South Park a cult classic. Matt Stone and Trey Parker worked on the show with Robert Lopez from Avenue Q. You might remember Avenue Q which had the rudest, crudest, funniest puppets you are ever likely to encounter.  It will come as no surprise then that the show is full of bad language and pokes fun at just about everything from religion to The Lion King.

It is set in a remote Ugandan village where two hapless, and hopeless, Mormons arrive on service. The missionaries are out to share their version of the scriptures and to convert the locals. Meanwhile the locals are far more concerned with real life issues like famine, poverty and AIDS to care much about the finer points of religion.

The peppy, eternally optimistic pair seem like children, who really don’t begin to understand the world around them. Now that description makes it sound a bit worthier, and possibly more thoughtful than it actually is! It does kind of make the point that the rest of the world might see Americans in this way, like bumbling foolish children, but the show is far less critical of the Ameri-centric world view than this might suggest. It is an affectionate teasing of all that the USA hold dear, rather than lambasting polemic. Above all the show never fails to capitalise on any opportunity for a laugh, so crude language and fart jokes are all part of the mix.

It has made a big hit with London audiences, recently winning the Evening Standard on line poll as Best Night Out. However it missed out on Best Musical in the actual Evening Standards Awards which went to the rather more worthy, and totally sold out, Merrily We Roll Along.

The Book of Mormon Theatre Breaks?

I’m not sure it will appeal to a wide audience for theatre breaks but if you saw and loved Avenue Q then it might be for you. I could see it going down well for a younger audience but it does have an 18+ rule so the 15 or 16 year old boys that might love the humour can’t see it. Still 26 is the new 16 so that mid twenties audience is really likely to enjoy it most. It’s not my cup of tea really, as you might tell from this post, but if it’s yours then theatre breaks are available.

You can get an idea of what the show is like from this video:

You can tell that it is far from hard hitting and anti-religion, given that the Mormons (Church of the Latter Day Saints) themselves have an advert in the programme! This show is not out to change the world or even be at all political. It is all about laughing with, rather than at the ‘heroes’. I can’t really recommend it but then I’m not really their target audience. I never understood the appeal of South Park but if you did than this show might be just what you are looking for. The music is surprisingly good, as is the staging and choreography. It is just too All American for me.

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Once Theatre Breaks

Once London

Click the image for Once Theatre Breaks

Once the musical is a great choice for theatre breaks, a feel good high energy show with a tender, touching story. It tells the tale of two lovers from very different background who communicate with each other through their shared passion for music and song writing. The story is set mainly in the Dublin pub where they sing, play, and socialise. The tale follows the couple, who meet whilst he is busking on the streets of Dublin, through just one week, right at the start of their possible relationship. That is important, because we are never sure if this relationship will come to anything and we are soon totally swept up in wanting them to give it a chance.

Once Theatre Breaks Now Available

Will They – Won’t They?

Music brings them together

Music brings them together

He is an Irish busker and she is a Czech immigrant who stops to talk to him one day when she sees him busking. It soon becomes clear that she too is a musician and they start a friendship which we as an audience get caught up in hoping will develop into something more romantic. It is not easy though as she is going through a marriage break-up and has a toddler while he is still writing songs about his ex-girlfriend who has moved away to London. At first they are just friends but slowly their songs start to say the things they will not or cannot say to each other.
It is a touching and romantic story but Once is not just about them. The show is set in a traditional Irish pub it has the feel of a ceilidh with the alcohol, laughter and music flowing. It becomes a celebration of that spirit and the warmth of that Irish pub gives us all a warm glow.

There is plenty of high energy Irish folk music, and dancing too, though don’t expect Riverdance! This is rawer and more real.
You can get a feel of the lively nature of the show from this video:

Listen to The Music
The music is totally central to this show and the London version is a little different to the Broadway one. It definitely has a rawer, folkier feel and is all the better for that.

The production have recently released an EP of some of the tracks from the show which you can here via Soundcloud or Spotify and buy through iTune. Then again, you could just listen to it here:

Once Theatre Breaks – perfect for couples

Once - Theatre Breaks Magazine - Omega Holidays I think Once will make a lovely choice for a theatre break. It should work well for couples of any ages as everyone loves a love story and a touch of the Irish. It would also be a good choice for any kind of celebration break as it is such a lively, feel good show. It is not the sort of show where you will know all the songs straight away or be able to revel in nostalgia. If that is what you want the West end has plenty of other shows to meet your needs. Once is more for someone who wants something a bit quirky and unusual, or those of us who loved the old singer songwriters and enjoy a bit of folk music and of course the craic.
The Phoenix Theatre is a perfect setting for the show as it is fairly intimate and the set captures the atmosphere of the Irish pub really well. I hope the show will run as long as the other Phoenix favourite Blood Brothers and I think there is a good chance that it will.

Once Theatre Breaks Now Available

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Miss Saigon Theatre Breaks

Miss Saigon theatre breaks are already on sale! Check our Reader’s Offer site for dates.

The show is one of the most successful musicals ever seen on the London stage and it is on its way back. Cameron Macintosh is bringing the musical back to the West End in a new production and into the gorgeous Prince Edward Theatre next spring. Tickets are already on sale and we are already seeing people book May theatre breaks for the show. I don’t blame them. I think it is going to be glorious. There’s not much information on the production as yet just this video teaser:

Miss Saigon – the plot

Miss Saigon Theatre Breaks

Miss Saigon Theatre Breaks

I was talking to a friend in Portsmouth who saw the show last time it was here and she has already booked her break. She said it is such a touching story that she cried nearly all the way through the last scenes and she couldn’t wait to see it again. The story is very romantic, one of the classic plots it concerns a pair of star-crossed lovers set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. The plot follows in the tradition of Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly and whilst the music is more modern than his masterpiece it is just as emotive and affecting.  It tells the tragic tale of a doomed romance involving an Asian woman abandoned by her American lover. The setting is relocated to 1970s Saigon. Macintosh himself says the production and design approach is much grittier and more realistic than the original. I’m hoping for helicopters on stage myself :-)

There are so many statistics about Miss Saigon and it broke all sorts of box office records, becoming a London institution for several years. I have no idea whether it will be able to repeat that level of success but I am sure it will be a great choice for theatre breaks.

Miss Saigon – one of a crop of grown up musicals

I love the fact that there are a really strong crop of ‘grown-up’ musicals on in the West End in 2014, with something for every taste. Of course people who love Miss Saigon might also want to consider seeing the new Tim Rice show From Here to Eternity. Superficially they might seem similar but although the basic stories of both derive from Madame Butterfly (which itself comes from an obscure French novel of the 1870s Madame Crysantheme) the sub plots, music and settings mean they are really quite different. Personally, I want to see them both and with theatre breaks by coach being very reasonably priced at the moment I might just manage it!

A quick weekend trip in the spring and another one in the autumn sounds perfect. As you have some spare time in the capital you can also fit in a bit of sight-seeing, shopping, or meet up with friends or family. I’ll probably do the latter as it’s so easy to find somewhere nice to meet up for brunch on a Sunday morning in London. My favourite place tends to be Columbia Rd Flower Market, lovely to mooch round, nice places for a brunch and not too far to get back to the coach pick-up point.

So there we are, I’m planning my next  theatre break as the winter gales howl round our house here in the wilds. It’s our 10th anniversary next year and I can’t think of anything more romantic than a trip to London to see Miss Saigon, maybe a river trip too as that’s one of my favourite things to do in London, and then meet up with family on the Sunday morning before we go back home.  I’m sure there will be room for a few plants on the coach….!

If you have read this far here is your reward! 10 minutes of the show from a 2009 production – enjoy! (Songs include: 1.The Heat is On in Saigon 2.The Wedding  3.Last Night of the World 4. This is the Hour 5.American Dream)

 

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