Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Hairspray

A few weeks ago I flew to Dubai, United Arab Emirates on business with British Airways. I hate long flights because I can never sleep and I find them so boring. But this flight was different. I, unexpectedly, found a movie to watch (I am not big on movies) called Hairspray. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining I found it.

It tells the story of Tracy, a young girl in Baltimore, Maryland, USA in the early sixties. She is obsessed with a television show called The Corny Collins Show because some of her classmates take part in it, including a Link Larkin with whom she is madly in love but who is dating a rich and snobbish other classmate called Amber.

The show is based on singing ‘race’-related music and Tracy’s mum (played by John Travolta in the movie) is not happy with this for obvious reasons. Also, when Tracy goes for an audition at the television studio, she gets turned down on the basis of her (over-)weight – imagine that happening today in the UK!

But Tracy does not give up and she learns various R&B dance moves from the best dancer, Seaweed and this gets her a place on the Corny Collins Show. The show organises an annual ‘Miss Teenage Hairspray’ competition and Tracy’s immediate popularity makes her a very strong candidate to win it. She also starts becoming popular with Link, much to the dismay of his girlfriend Amber. In fact, Amber gets Tracy sent to detention to get her away from her boyfriend but this backfires because he gets himself sent to detention too to support her!

Although Tracy does not actually win the contest, she achieves another possibly more important goal – that of getting Link to fall in love with her!

I found the movie Hairspray to be thoroughly entertaining and that is very unusual for me because I do not easily like movies.

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Saturday, 31 January 2009

Cheap London Theatre Tickets

I keep reading posts on the web about where is the best place to get cheap tickets for London's West End shows - musicals and plays. I think I come across about one article every day on average. Needless to say, different people have different views and this depends largely on their own personal experience.

I have read about going to Leicester Square in the early evening to buy tickets from booths there or recommending going to the theatre box office itself about 30 minutes before the show starts, etc.

Some also recommend buying from prominent (and not so prominent) websites giving various reasons for the various sites they recommend.

If one searches for London theatre material online, one comes across a myriad of sites offering information and tickets for London musicals and plays. One is led to believe that there are many stakeholders in the London theatre industry. The truth is that the London theatre ticket scene is controlled by a very small number of organisations.

In fact, it is dominated by literally a handful of them. Please do not make the mistake of confusing ticket re-sellers with theatre business stakeholders. There are tons of ticket re-sellers but very few who actually ‘own’ the tickets.

In most cases, the ticket ‘owners’ are the theatre owners themselves or the musical or play producers themselves, who are sometimes the same people. Major ticket brokers buy tickets from the theatre or producer and distribute them, either directly or through re-sellers, of which there are hundreds.

Nearly everyone, theatres/producers, ticket brokers and ticket re-sellers sell the same tickets for the same shows at the same prices. With this in mind, the biggest winners are those who can get the best exposure and can inspire the best confidence in the visitor.

Time (lots of it) has led me to conclude that it is not really worth shopping around for cheap tickets as most sources sell the same tickets at the same prices. By the way, the above applies to all musicals including top sellers like Sound of Music, Grease, Hairspray and Dirty Dancing or classics like Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera.

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