Opposite Victoria Station stands the Victoria Palace Theatre. I have attended two and a half performances there. ‘Billy Elliot’ is quite the best stage production of its kind that I have ever seen. During its first week, for Louisa’s birthday, I took her and Errol to see the show. At the time the film, which we had watched on DVD together, was one of Louisa’s favourites. Naturally we had a curry beforehand.
‘Billy Elliot: The Musical is a coming-of-age stage musical based on the 2000 film of the same name. The music is by Elton John, and the book and lyrics are by Lee Hall, who wrote the film’s screenplay. The plot revolves around Billy, a motherless British boy who begins taking ballet lessons. The story of his personal struggle and fulfilment are balanced against a counter-story of family and community strife caused by the 1984–85 UK miners’ strike in County Durham, in North East England. Hall’s screenplay was inspired in part by A. J. Cronin‘s 1935 novel about a miners’ strike, The Stars Look Down, to which the musical’s opening song pays homage.
The musical premiered at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London’s West End in 2005 and was nominated for nine Laurence Olivier Awards, winning four, including Best New Musical. The production ran through April 2016. Its success led to productions in Australia, Broadway, and numerous other countries. In New York, it won ten Tony Awards and ten Drama Desk Awards, including, in each case, Best Musical. It has also won numerous awards in Australia including a record-tying seven Helpmann Awards.’ (Wikipedia)
Some years earlier, soon after Becky had returned to London from Newark, I arranged to meet her at Victoria Station to take her to the Victoria Palace to see one of the opening performances of ‘Buddy’.
Wikipedia also tells us: ‘Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story is a musical in two acts written by Alan Janes, and featuring the music of Buddy Holly. It opened at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre on 12 October 1989. An early example of the jukebox musical, Buddy ran in London’s West End for over 12 years, playing 5,140 performances. Janes took over the producing of the show himself in 2004, and Buddy has been on tour extensively in the UK since then, having played Broadway, five U.S. National Tours and numerous other productions around the world. The show was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Musical.
She didn’t turn up. Since this was most unlike either one of my two reliable daughters I waited an hour. The only other person I have ever waited for that long was her mother on our first date, again at Victoria Station. Having finally given up on Becky, wondering what on earth had gone wrong, which probably affected my mood, I went to the theatre, explained the situation, and asked for a refund. This was not possible. I asked to speak to the manager. He was unavailable. ‘OK,’ said I, tearing up the tickets which I threw into the office, ‘you have these, they’re no good to me.’ Storming out of the theatre in high dudgeon, I walked straight into Becky.
Somewhat shame-faced we returned to the ticket office where I sought admission. There was now a different booking clerk. We could not gain admission because the show had started and anyway I didn’t have any tickets. I quickly replaced my blown gasket and again asked to speak to the manager. This time I was invited to wait for the intermission when he might just possibly be available. He did indeed materialise. The jigsaw puzzle that was the shredded tickets was fished out of the wastepaper basket, pieced together, and closely scrutinised. We now found that the manager was sympathetic to our plight. He had actually appeared before the intermission but invited us to wait until then and enter the theatre during the break. We were given two much better seats and tickets for a future complete performance. Is that ever likely to happen again? ‘That’ll be the day’.