Friday, June 3, 2011

Sweet 16

Our oldest daughter Annie turned 16 when we were in Bath for the second week of spring break, so we never got around to having an official celebration.  Every year we go through the same routine, with her contemplating various ways to celebrate and never settling on a specific plan.  Last year she turned 15 in the hospital thanks to surgery, so this year she was determined to acknowledge Sweet 16, even if it's a bit belated.

After considering the various musicals in London's west end theatre district, she finally settled on "Legally Blonde".  She invited seven sophomores to accompany her, the little group that has become her posse at the local American-International school in nearby Cobham.    

Getting into London isn't difficult, but it requires you do your homework.  First I used the Southwest Trains app on my iPhone to look for a train from the 'burbs into central London's Waterloo station.  Then I had to find out which tube (subway) line would get us from Waterloo to Charing Cross.  That would place us about 4 blocks from the theatre.  The Tube Map app contains up-to-date information on the many tube lines serving London.  This comes in handy when they're closing them down for maintenance, signal problems, and the occasional deranged person that decides to throw themselves onto the tracks to commit suicide, usually during rush hour.  

Once I went through all that rigamarole, I figured out a time for the girls to arrive at our house so we could pile into my SUV to drive a couple blocks to the train station.  We arrived in the city without a hitch and found The Savoy Theatre.  I had purchased our tickets online and we were at the back of The Stalls in the £53 seats.  We were the 7th row and there were a total of maybe 10 folks in the 6 rows sitting in front of us.  As soon as the lights dimmed for the performance, we made a dash to the second row and enjoyed a much better view of the stage.  

I wish I could have gotten a picture of the performance, but I think the petite little lady usher with the terribly loud voice would have wrestled the camera from me and bounced me out of the place.  I took a single shot of the girls in their seats and she immediately made a beeline over to tell me that no flash photography was allowed per the producers.  I can understand not allowing pics of the performance, but give me a break.  Did they think I was a spy, getting pics of the obnoxious chair upholstery or ugly floral carpeting?  So just to be obnoxious, I snapped one more pic of the girls without the flash.  Sure enough, the drill sergeant made an announcement to everyone in our section that photography was not allowed in the theatre.  Whatever.  When the old guy took a pic of his companions about 5 minutes later, the usher developed a facial tic and made the same announcement yet again.  Bahahahaha!

The musical's plot was similar to the movie, but different enough to keep me interested.  I thought the number "Gay or European" was cute.  Check out the link below to see someone who secretly filmed it at the theater.  I hope it works!  This is the same cast we saw, too.  Obviously the usher Nazi was off that day because this sort of illegal filming wouldn't have happened on her watch.

All of the girls really liked the intro number "Omigod You Guys!"  A lot.  They sang it walking down the street.  They sang it in the tube.  And on the commuter train back out to the 'burbs.  Check it out, though this is only part of the number and it's a bit wobbly.

After the show, we hopped back on the tube to get to Piccadilly Square.  From there we walked to the Benihana Restaurant.  We were a bit early for our 6:30 reservation, but they weren't busy yet and were happy to seat us almost immediately.  Here is a pic of the girls enjoying their mocktails.  

Our waiter was a sweet and very attentive young man that earned a substantial tip for his efforts.  The chef that prepared our meal was quite funny, singing Lady GaGa lyrics.  Each of the girls ordered their own entree, which came with a starter of soup, salad, grilled onions and shrimp, followed by the main.  We were all stuffed an hour and a half later when I paid the bill and we waddled out to head home.  

Lucky us, there was some big championship football (soccer) game scheduled for 8 pm at Wembley Stadium that evening.  Manchester United was playing Barcelona and the Spanish fans were out in droves using the tube.  There was a big police presence in the stations, just to make sure there was no monkey business.  The Barcelona fans were decked out in team jerseys, draped in flags and singing some song.  I have no idea if it was the Spanish national anthem, a team fight song, or some rude Spanish ditty thumbing its nose at England.  Whatever it was, they sang it with gusto at the top of their lungs and it was quite deafening as it echoed off the tiled walls of the tube passages.  Many of them seemed to be celebrating early because they were chugging beer and reeked of it.  All of this would have been fine if it was just me, or me and some ladies my age.  But I was herding along a pack of eight attractive 16-year-old girls.  Let's just say there was a lot of staring, the sort where they turned their whole bodies around and watched them pass.  A few called out, but we all kept our heads down and kept going.  Men.

After we got back to our house, the girls wandered out into the garden for a while.  They made enough racket that I thought the neighbors might call the cops.  They took turns riding on the tire swing.  They did a few cheer and dance moves, climbed atop the little play house left here by the homeowners who had a preschool aged son and just goofed around in general.  They may be 16, but they were acting like a bunch of overexcited puppies, which was pretty cute.  

Happy Sweet 16, Annie.  Your daddy and I hope you'll be blessed with at least a hundred more!

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