Many of my blog posts have been about a particular event or general impressions from my surrounding environment. As I’m nearing the end of my trip (sad), I have dedicated this blog post to letting you in on two semi-regular activities of mine in London.
My Quest to Meet John Goodman
As mentioned in Show Reflections 1, I saw American Buffalo, starring John Goodman, Damian Lewis, and Tom Sturridge, my second weekend here. For those of you who don’t know, Mr. Goodman is an alumni of Missouri State (go bears), so I was especially excited for my chance to meet him at the stage door.
After the performance I saw, I met and got autographs from the other two stars, but was informed that, “Mr. Goodman has left the building.”
Since I was only a ten minute walk from the theatre, I made a point to continue to go back to try to meet him. I often scheduled my evenings around making a trip to Wyndham Theatre at 9:45. One Sunday afternoon I did some homework at a nearby coffee shop and then walked over to discover there hadn’t even been a show that day. After that, I made sure there was actually a show before venturing to the stage door.
Unfortunately, the good news you’re hoping for doesn’t exist. I tried five times, but he is a man of privacy, which I can respect. With so many things to do in London, you might think this was a waste of my time, but I don’t regret it at all. Though I didn’t meet Mr. Goodman, whilst waiting with other fans, I got to know two girls from the FSU program, a group of acting majors from Iowa State University, and a film student from China studying in England. Though these are mere passing acquaintances, those conversations are what shape an experience like this. Another bonus: I learned at least one route by heart since I walked from my flat to the theatre so many times.
**Damian Lewis and Tom Sturridge also probably think I’m a stalker now since I met them 5 times… oops.
Open Mic Nights
Another fellow bear/friend of mine who studied in London gave me some insider tips, namely open mic nights at the Phoenix Artist Club. Yes, it is a club that meets in the basement of the Phoenix Theatre. It is exclusive to members except for Thursday nights when they open up their back room to house a musical theatre lover’s dream.
You first walk in at ground level where there is a host that allows entry. Then, you walk down the stairs and pass through the bar area that has plush, red velvet seats and walls decorated with headshots and show posters. Finally, through a sliding door, you enter into the open mic room with tiny cocktail tables, booths, and airport seating in the back corner. At the front is a small stage with a piano (occupied by one of the most amazing accompanists I’ve ever seen) and a mic stand. There is a stack of music books available to use, but most people bring their own sheet music. You put your name on the list with Jo and wait your turn as one of the two alternating hosts provides transitions between performers. And I mean performers. This isn’t your average drunken karaoke where most people scream-sing. Many of the singers are fellow musical theatre majors, while others are just lovers of the craft. I was told that one of the hosts played Superman in Superman the Musical (who knew that existed?)!
I attended this open mic night every Thursday, and it became one of my favorite experiences of my trip. The first week I went with a fellow theatre major, and I was just going to soak it all in without worrying about performing, but some guy with a guitar convinced me to sing. I looked through their selection of music and decided to sing “Someone Else’s Story.” Having not warmed up at all, it was a little intimidating singing for a room full of people who actually know the difference between good and bad singing. It wasn’t my best performance, but it was still fun!
The night ends at 1 AM when the entire room that’s left joins in singing “One Day More.” I can’t think of anything more appropriate for a musical theatre club in London!
I had been telling my mom all about this place and was so excited to take her when she arrived in London. We did have a nice time, and I sang again, but unfortunately our trip was slightly tainted by a creepy man who asked for our extra chair and instead sat with us. It was fine at first, but then he was slightly too touchy and just had that general yuck factor you can’t quite pinpoint, but that gives you the heebie jeebies. Finally, he bid us farewell, but then returned with another beer about fifteen minutes later. Taking that as our cue to leave, we left early and did not get to stay for the “One Day More” experience. It wasn’t the best way to end one of my most treasured experiences in London, but I suppose it makes it easier to leave. At least now I have a lovely place to return to the next time I visit London, and hopefully George won’t be there.