2012 Spring External Programs Shannon Barter United Kingdom

The Famous West End

As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I am not exactly one with a large appreciation for the performing arts. Despite growing up a short hour or so bus ride away from the famous Broadway shows in New York City, I have never really gotten into musicals or theater. With that said, even I knew that I could not leave London without seeing a few shows in the famous “West End.” The West End is London’s very own version of Broadway, with dozens of beautiful theaters and top notch performances. My first theater experience in London was only my third night here, as my program took us to see The Woman in Black. I was actually a little excited to see this show, mostly because I knew that the play had been made into a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe, giving me high hopes. I wound up spending the first half of the show snoozing on and off, and the second half of it petrified, as the story gets eerie and dark. It was certainly an interesting experience, though perhaps not the experience one expects to have in the West End!

My second theater experience was far classic, as my friend Grace and I went with her parents who were visiting to see the Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. We all dressed for the occasion, and toasted a glass of champagne before the show began. The whole evening theatre experience made me feel less like a poor college student studying in the city, and more like a woman enjoying a sophisticated night out on the town! Although I still think musicals just have a little too much singing and not enough dialogue, the whole night was a lot of fun and the show was definitely a lot more interesting and moving than I thought it might be! The theatre itself was a vision as well, as it was absolutely beautiful with red velvet seats and decorative walls and balconies. We also went out to the restaurant down the street afterwords, capping off a lovely night with an even more lovely meal!

Her Majesty’s Theatre!

My most recent West End experience was seeing a matinee showing of the play All New People that just opened  this year. This show was of particular interest to me because it was written by and starred Zach Braff, the main character on the show Scrubs and the movie Garden State! Even better, the play took place in Long Beach Island, New Jersey – a small beach town a mere 45 minutes from where I grew up! All of these familiarities made the show that much more enjoyable, as well as the fact that the play was absolutely hysterical! Maybe I wrote off the performing arts before I properly should have, as I have learned that enjoying the theater simply means finding plays or musicals that interest you specifically! Overall, I am so glad that I got to experience the famed west end during my time in London, and I am looking forward to keeping an open mind should any more show opportunities come my way in the future!

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