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London Theatres

There are hundreds of other theaters thought it all over London, some of them large

and famous, but theatrically speaking this is Londons West End.  This is where you

can see spectacular musicals, classy revivals of classic plays from the 1920s and

1930s, imported or homebred farce, the latest transfers from Broadway, and the

mousetrap, which has been running in London for 45 years. The finest theaters in the

West End were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, following the last

great slum clearance in central London.  As the rotten rat infested houses were

pulled down impresarios rushed forward, checkbooks and hand, to grab the best sites.

Between 1880 and 1913.  The most ornate and beautiful of London’s theaters opened:

the London Pavilion, Balearic, the Princess, the palace, the Garrick, wyndham’s, the

Coliseum and many others.  The Coliseum rivaled its Roman predecessor.  When it

opened, the stage had three revolving platforms to accommodate spectacles that

included chariot races, a reenactment of the Derby, and elephants playing cricket.

The proprietor, Oswald stoll, Leeward Sarah Bernhardt to the Coliseum to play Hamlet

for 1000 pounds a week an enormous sum of money in 1910.  After each night’s

performance, the Divine Sarah made stole paid her personally in gold. London hookups can be seen frequenting this venue.

London Bridge

The London Palladium

it used to be the ambition of every comedian, variety artist and singer from

California, Caucasus to play the London Palladium.  It is vast, built in 1910 on the

site of henglers circus.  Its most famous days as the home of variety and reviews.

In the 1930s, it was the home of the crazy gang, a collection of British comedians

headed by Bob Flanagan and Chesney Allen, much loved by Londoners for their mad,

anarchic humor.  And every Christmas time, barries Peter Pan was staged here.  In

the 1940s and 1950s, the Palladium became the showcase for the finest American

talent: Bob Hope, Danny Kaye, Frankie Laine, Bing Crosby, and hundreds more.  Today,

it’s the venue for large-scale, bright, brash musicals.

Theatre Royal, drury Lane

for many Londoners, this is the finest theater in the capital.  It’s certainly the

oldest still in use.  The first theater on the site was destroyed by fire in 1672,

with the loss of all its costumes and scenery.  There were many fires in London in

those days.  Like so much of the capital, the theater was rebuilt by Sir Christopher

Wren.  He was always a likely place.  There was an attempted assassination of George

III there in 1800.  Lavish melodramas were staged, and spectacles with herds of

elephants and troops of performing dogs.  Despite the introduction of an irony

safety curtain in 1794.  wrens Theatre burnt down in 1809.  Once again it was

rebuilt, this time with funds provided by the London brewer Samuel Whitbread.  For

much of the early part of the 19th century, the stable diet for playgoers was a

series of melodramas.  It’s a very beautiful theater, and if you can’t afford a

ticket, least penetrate the foyer.  As far as the box office, and pretend you can.

Going to the theatre tickets in the West End are expensive, though going to the theater isn’t the dressy business.  It was a couple of generations ago.  Whatever the fashion world

says, whatever devotees of Opera may insist, it’s perfectly acceptable to go to

almost any West End theater in smart casual and comfortable dress.  How you behave

when you go threre does matter.  In the last 20 or 30 years theater goers have

become more talkative and ever more prone to Russell packets of sweets, crisps or

biscuits.  It may be that, once they have become absorbed in a play, they forget

that they are not at home watching television, and feel free to chat to each other

about the plot, the characters and even the costings.  It may be that they simply

don’t become absorbed in the play.  Either way, actors would prefer audience to be

respectively quiet.  If the price of a ticket is intimidating, then it’s worth

paying to visit to the cut price ticket booth in leicester Square.  You can’t book

for anything and advance, but you can pick up some half-price bargains on the day of

the performance itself.  Queues begin to form at the booth in the late afternoon,

when the starling start to screech in the autumn, and when the setting sun’s rays

slant along Panton Street in the spring and early summer.  Many London theaters are

architecturally delightful, inside and out, particularly the fortune in Russell

Street, the two theaters facing each other across the bottom of haymarket, her

Majesty’s and Haymarket Theatre, the Duke of York’s in St. Martin’s Lane, wyndhams

and the garrick in charring cross road.

Tips for the traveler.

From a practical point of view, here are a few hints on traveling by London taxis.

First, through the city, especially outside hotels and stations, they’re a taxi

ranks were taxis wait for passengers.  At Heathrow Airport.  There is also a

separate rant for taxis operating a cab share scheme: passengers pay a standard fare

for a trip in the central London within London that it is fairly easy to hail a cab

by shouting or waving.  It is usually worth hailing taxis on the opposite side of

the road just for a quick demonstration of how London taxis can turn on a sixpence,

and of how drivers are impervious to the sound of screeching tires and elbows on

horns all around them.  There are the easy bits; the difficult choice confronts you

after settling into your seat.  Do you try to strike up a conversation?  Most London

taxi drivers, particularly the older ones, love to talk.  London social gatherings

are formed for anecdotes about taxi drivers.  The reason is not because the drivers

can negotiate the the rabbit warren under the barbican; it’s because, given the

chance, cabbies never stop talking.  Traffic, foreign policy, they miss people they

have chauffeured, worksheet in the Canary Islands, why the wife has walked out, are

all topics of conversation.  Having a two-week conversation is almost out of the

question.  For one thing, the passenger can see only the back of the drivers had

where the cabbie can see the passenger in his rearview mirror.  And, for another,

the driver can hear much because of the engine.  What tends to happen is that he

shouts a monologue over his shoulder through the statutory 6 inch gap in the glass

partition, or the passenger makes feeble and ignore attempts to join in.  Most cabs

carry a notice that reads: thank you for not smoking.  A cartoon in the secure call

magazine Private eye, which had long-running column supposedly written by a cabbie.

When the conversation or a journey is over, there is the matter of paying the fair.

Displayed on a meter, it is shown usually as two separate amounts: an amount for the

trip, plus a second amount for any extras.  Additional passengers, luggage,

traveling at certain times of the day or at weekends.  Drivers don’t expect enormous

chips, though they claim they are taxed on an expectation of receiving 15% vote with

their.  They generally prefer around getting up of the fair by about 10 to 15% to

the nearest 50 pence or 1 pound and they will occasionally huff about having to give

change at busy periods, as it takes up their time.  It is worth having the right

money ready.

The double-decker.

No matter what happens, the big red vehicle just won’t go away.

The red double-decker buses to London with the cable car is to San Francisco or the

gondola to Venice.  It’s part of the fabric of the city.  It is rather more than

that: in the form of the traditional robe master, it is a mechanical miracle,

introduced in 1959 and expected lifespan of 17 years and still on the road.  Of 2825

originally built, 900 or going strong.  They been threatened with the scrapheap many

times.  In 1970 London transport decided to phase out conductors.  This meant facing

in pay as you enter buses with driver operated doors, thus elevating the joys of

hopping on and off the platform of a passing vehicle and of chatting with the

conductor.  Conductors survived, though in fewer numbers, and are still appreciated:

indeed, in 1994.  The Queen gave Dominican born Tony Severine, a conductor on the

number 12 route from Dulwich to shepherds Bush, an honor standing for member of the

British Empire for outstanding service to the traveling public.

Safety first.

In 1996, the European Union pronounce the open platforms were dangerous and that

routremasters should be banned because of instability.  Hypothesis rather than

statistics supported this assertion.  In a bid to prove their safety, London

transport staff of the top deck of a boss, which was then quartered at a tilt of

40°.  It didn’t topple over.  Routemasters have undoubted charisma.  TV

documentaries have been made about them, a 1963 feature movie starred one.  And they

have crossed deserts and confidence to continue life in all corners of the world.

They are simply built with aluminum panels that can be bolted on and off, and the

mechanics so simple that an engine change takes only seven hours.  In 1992 at

10,000,000 pound refurbishment program began, to ensure routemasters were kept alive

into the 21st century.  A single innovation was a flexible roof The only part to be

made abroad, in the US which would stand up to falling trees, a fear caused by

recent storms.  Two years later, with privatization of bus services threaten to

change their vehicles, livelihood, the transport minister had to bow to public

pressure and intervene, promising to keep the vehicles right.

Theater land.

From Shakespeare to Sondheim, wilde to Lloyd Webber, the best and the worst of plays

and musicals turned up in the West end.

The opening of Shakespeare’s Globe on Bankside has been seen as a triumph of culture

over commercialism.  Here, for the price of a ticket, you can sit on rockhard

benches, squint through the Sun slamming it over the thatched door, pure round

pillars to try to catch lines from the acoustically challenge stage, and even, if

the youthful director Mark rylance is to be taken at his word, cat Call and lob the

occasional tomato for performance is not to your liking.  If this is a theater

heritage to appeal to the tourist as well as the purest, and Elizabethan Playhouse

risen from the rubble of time.  And even if its location, at the south end of London

Bridge, is a bit off the beaten track, many will make for its doors simply to savour

the unique experience.  The brainchild of American actor and director Sam Wanamaker,

who didn’t live to see it completed, the theater is a replica of the 1599 Auditorium

in which William Shakespeare had shares and where he staged many of his plays.  Like

many theaters over the years, the original Globe was destroyed by fire.

The best way to buy tickets.

Despite the prevalent notion that everything in London is so successful that it

sells out fast, most shows have some seats.  It’s the more expensive tickets

generally for musicals that are usually hardest to obtain.  Unlike New York, where

most of the ticket buying is done through agencies, in London tickets can be

purchased at the box office, cutting of the feed of the middlemen.  There are,

however, a number of good, reliable ticket agencies, which sometimes have more to

offer than the theater itself.  A day or so before the performance, they return

their tickets at the box office.  These tickets are then sold to students,

pensioners and the unwaged.  On the day of the performance, unsold tickets are also

available from a booth in leicester Square selling at around half price.  The

cheapest performances are matinees, but understudies may then replace the stars.

Tickets at the Royal national Theatre are considerably cheaper if bought on the day.

Tickets are offered outside theaters by touts or scalpers for anything up to 10

times their face value.  There’s nothing illegal in this, but it is good sense to

ask the face valur of the ticket on offer , and the exact position of the seat.

Shopping.

Just about any item you ever wanted can be found in London.  The trick lies in

knowing where to start looking for it.

There are some things real snobs wouldn’t be seen dead doing.  Shopping inherits is

one of them is far too full of tourists, you know, although they might just sneak

into its food hall on the basis that it serves as their local corner grocery store.

Visiting Oxford Street, even in a Rolls-Royce, is another.  As for souvenir shop,

they wouldn’t even be carried there after rigor mortis headset and.  But of course,

there are exactly the places visitors to the city want to go.  And they should.

Oxford Street stretches from Tottenham Court Road, Center for hi-fi gear and

computers, to marble arch at what was once the less fashionable West End, where to

tyburn gallows stood.  But the roles have now been reversed.  At the Tottenham Court

Road and, Virgin megastore occupies one of the former stores in ladies mile, part of

the street that the respectable when to end at war in times to find a bold new

department stores.  Let your eyes rise above the tawdry trinkets of the current

shops and you’ll see the fine façades that held the aspirations of those golden

shopping summers.  The department stores that remain from ranks in the more upmarket

stretch, west of Oxford Circus: Dickens and Jones, debenhams, D..H.evans, John

Lewis, Selfridge’s, they are cosmetic halls smelling sticky sweet and staffed by

thickly caked alchemist, they’re upstairs galleries piled with bolts of cloth rolled

out by the last few people on earth who know how to sew.  Designers have their

niches in many of these stories, which try to be all things to all people and, like

trendy grandmothers, are desperate to appeal to the young.

On shopping,

for the sheer exuberance of shopping, Covent Garden shouldn’t be missed.  Overhyped,

maybe, but there are always shops to pop into, such as Paul Smith’s, the smart

designers in floral Street.  And while you’re here, you might just see what’s in the

boutiques and specialty stores.  Buy anything oriental in Neil Street, and anything

herbal or vegetarian in Neal’s Yard in King Street, row six floors of darker

Martin’s, which has come a long way since the black boot.  In the Piazza get a

blowup Mono Lisa from museum store.  Also in King Street is the Irish job.  A new

row, naturally British shows the nation at its most traditional.  Anything else you

want is all within reach: statues of Egyptian gods from the British Museum cast

service in blooms bury Street; antique cameras at classic collection in nearby pied

bull Yard; anything electrical and Tottenham Court Road.  There is theater

memorabilia in dress circle in Monmouth Street, just down from obsessions at seven

dials, where gadgets and gizmos are worth a browse.  Cinema memorabilia can be had

in the vintage magazine shop in Bird Street, just along from anything left-handed, a

shop that sells left-handed versions of tools and implements.  Book buyers should

head for Long acre and Charing Cross Road.  Trophy hunters will visit the Scotch

house in Knightsbridge for woollens, BurBerry in the Haymarket for overcoats.  The

vintage house in old Compton Street for malt whiskey, caviar house, next to the

ritz, for sevurga, Oscietre or Royal Black caviar.  Everything you ever wanted is in

London.  All you need bring is your cash.

Markets.

Selling high-priced antiques, tawdry trinkets and bric-a-brac, London’s markets are

full of life and a magnet for browsers.

The sign reads: Billy buys almost everything.  Billy’s selection of almost

everything is piled high within a 6 foot square cubbyhole in one corner of Camden

lock market: beside Regents Canal in Camden.  Billy himself is tiny and stands on to

milk crates so that he can see over shoppers heads to watch his junk.  Around him an

enormous variety of vendors, whose accents come from all parts of the globe, not

just London, selling earrings made out of innards of clocks, and painted shoes, and

even life membership to the Finsbury Park insect club.  Fly pickers, illegal traders

selling from suitcases appear and disappear like shadows on the pavements outside,

according to whether or not a policeman is in sight.  Like so many other areas of

London, hearts have attracted the attention of the read developers.  On the other

hand, stallholders in petticoat Lane and brick Lane in the East End would claim

their prices are rock-bottom, although goods here could be dodgy meaning either

acquired below the counter illegally are liable to go wrong.  There is a popular

saying that, by the time of tourists is walk the length of petticoat Lane market, he

could be sold his own handkerchief by the last stall.

Dubious merchandise.

Brick Lane market starts very early in the morning.  While the Camden markets

reflect the hidden riches of the city, brick Lane reflects the hidden poverty in the

side streets, East Enders spread their wares on the wet, gray pavement, within a few

hundred yards of the stock market.  Here is the latest cd player retails at a

bargain price, on ship despite falling off the back of the truck.  There are

tremendous bargains for the Braves, and tremendous ripoffs for the unwary or

unlucky.  The West End’s Covent Garden is well known, and neighboring Jubilee market

as gimmicky crafts dolls, but in fact it is the city which has hosted London’s major

markets.  Billings gate, the home of fresh fish and fowl language, has since been

moved from the city to docklands; Smithfield meat market still functions, although

there are plans afoot to move it; Middlefield, organic produce market has expanded

to include crafts; leadenhall. Has been reviewed, and now provides market shopping

for city workers; ironically, most of the produce sold here is struck in from the

surrounding countryside, but ends up being eaten in the suburbs near where it is

grown.  Antique markets are widespread throughout London.  Shells using closed

markets,chenil galleries and antiquarius, are networks of tiny, stall cramped

passages on Kings Road, staffed by experts, but rather stuffy.  There is a better

chance of picking up a bargain at Portobello Road, near Notting Hill gate, where

dealers do their shopping.  It’s many antique shops spill their wares out onto

market stalls on Saturdays, attracting huge crowds mainly tourists.  Stallholders

here may seem almost unaware of what they have on their stalls and more concerned to

perpetuate their image as Street characters.  But don’t be fooled.  They know

exactly what they have, and what their neighbors have, and what it is worth..

restaurants.

New restaurants open as frequently as new movies and are just as subject to the

whims of fashion.  So how do you tell the good from the bad

London is a great place for dining out, and its 12,000 restaurants offer some of the

world’s most memorable gastronomic experiences.  This may come as news to people who

have not been here for some years, for the last occasion on which the words London

and cuisine were convincingly linked was at the turn of the century.  Today the city

is straining under a bombardment of accolades.

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