This Christmas will be slightly strange for many, as we try to navigate the restrictions that have been imposed because of the pandemic.
Spare a thought for those whose families reside further afield, in different parts of the country—or, in some cases, in other countries.
I hear stories on a daily basis from clients who haven’t seen their loved ones this year, due to travel restrictions and different tier arrangements imposed in different parts of the country.
“I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas, with a note on them saying ‘Toys not included”. Bernard Manning.
I have many friends, relatives and family that live in London and the South East. Ordinarily, at this time of year, I would be booking train tickets, securing favourable rates in hotels, and I’d be packing my suitcase—excited to enjoy some yuletide cheer in the ‘big smoke’.
My diary would be filled with an abundance of ventures, which mainly involve fun, laughter and excitement.
A traditional trip to Winter Wonderland with my daughters, for example, in the heart of London—Hyde Park—where you can immerse yourself in all things festive, and where an array of attractions, activities and entertainment for all ages and visitors can be found.
This would be supplemented by a visit to the theatre; I usually book tickets up to a year in advance. We’ve seen various plays and musicals, such as Memphis, Mamma Mia, Chicago, Ghost, Wicked and the Lion King.
Then there’s ‘Dreamgirls’…
The film, based on the 1981 Broadway play, tells the story of a small, black record label and its star singers. Their success crosses over to the pop charts, and it’s rumoured to be loosely based on The Supremes. The movie received eight Academy Award nominations and won three Golden Globe awards.
This is a family favourite and, potentially, number one in our list of top 10 movies. We made a pact that, if the movie was ever adapted for the West End, we’d get tickets.
So, you can imagine my reaction when I discovered that the play was coming to London. I secretly booked tickets for the Savoy Theatre.
Proud Father moment: walking towards the theatre, in the distance, the girls caught their first glimpse of what was to come that evening. They also had a surprise for me, and they demanded that I open a large, carefully-gift-wrapped box in the theatre stalls.
The smiles on our faces were priceless. Moments like that stay with you for the rest of your life.
Drinks reserved for the interval, souvenir programme purchased, we made our way to the front of the auditorium to be seated. The band started playing, the curtain was raised. It was showtime.
The performers came on stage, singing and dancing, against a backdrop of music and smoke.
‘Bring it on!’ I thought…
However, it didn’t really get going. It seemed rather flat, and certainly not as inspiring as the movie.
The stage adaptation didn’t quite live up to my expectations. In fact, it wasn’t worthy of being in ‘our top 10’. That said, Amber Riley, who played Effie in the lead role, saved the day, due to her incredible voice that ripped through the auditorium. The first act closed with the barnstorming ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’. Enter, stage right, Jennifer Hudson; click here to listen to her version.
I wondered how my girls felt. We nervously chatted about the film and gave our personal critiques of the performances, as we do. Then the gloves came off. The outcome was unanimous: we thought that the movie was so much better than the stage production.
I’m already seeking out deeds and activities for Christmas 2021 to add to my dream board and bucket list.
I do hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas and that you make the most of what you have and the people around you.
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