Sunday, December 27, 2009

Scrooge, Panto and Ruby Slippers.... OH MY!

We have a bit of time to explore the "West End Theater District" after we enjoy our tea.

It's crazy busy there as the shopping crowd mixes with the folks waiting for the matinee performances.

We enjoy all the activity for a while, then we duck into this Bookshop. I love that they call it a "shop" and not a "store". It just seems more friendly.

Then it's time to head back to the theater for A Christmas Carol -- the musical not the Jim Carey movie.

We discover this is going to be a "panto" which is a special kind of play they offer during the holiday season. It's a musical, and usually features famous Television (Telly) stars. It's always a comedy and there will be men playing women's roles, women playing men's roles and a LOT of audience interaction.

I'd read about them, but the young woman who works at the theater, (you can see her peeking around the corner of this picture) tells us, "Americans don't understand Panto". But, I'm a library type and im my research I've read about these so I'm delighted to discover we are now going to see one.

We sit down early, so this makes the theater look empty but nearly every seat is filled, mostly with families and children. Sheryl and I are very in touch with our "inner child".

So, what is a "Panto" or Pantomine? Not just actors being mimes. It means the audience participates. The actors ask questions and we yell back the answers, we sing along and in the middle of the show... we all dance. It's during "Christmas past" when Scrooge worked for Fezziwig and they had a Christmas Ball. The entire audience stands up, we grab our neighbors hand and dance. I wish they had "Pantos" in Seattle! It's so much fun.

When we get out of the show it's dark and Sheryl wants to see "Harrods" one of the biggest and most exclusive department stores in the world. It isn't far so we head in that direction on the Metro.

Everyone in the city of London is at Harrods. The crowds so immense, we can barely get in the door. We quickly scan the first floor and find the stairs. It's much less crowded on the other floors.

There aren't any Christmas decorations, but they're celebrating the 60th Anniversary of "The Wizard of Oz" with a special fashion emphasis.

Dorothy is bit more stylish...

Glinda is high fashion.

Even the Wicked Witch and the Scarecrow have had a make-over.

And Toto Too!

We wander through the "women's clothing" section looking at designers like Halston, Chanel and Dolce and Gabbana. Note to self: if they don't put the prices on the clothes, I can't afford them.

Of course we need to look at the shoes, for me -- it's all about the shoes. And what do we discover? Ruby Slippers! The prettiest ruby slippers in the world.
Warning - if you have low tolerance for those who swoon over shoes just skip this part. Because as part of the store's focus on The Wizard of Oz -- they had designers from all over the world create their version of Ruby Slippers. And here they are!

And these are my favorites, although apparently they were so top heavy -- they couldn't stay standing. Betsey Johnson is one of my favorite designers.

We hear singing and discover in the middle of the store they have an opera performance.

Then we find the memorial to Princess Di and Dodie. (His father is the owner of Harrods).

We've seen enough stuff and we're getting hungry. We haven't eaten since breakfast and decide it's too busy to eat in this area, so we find a bus and head back to "Earl's Court" which is the neighborhood our hotel is in.

After some delicious Indian Food we have a nightcap at our hotel, gloat over our treasures from Portabello Road and fall into bed after another exhausting but fun day in London.

Coming next: Bath, Tea with Mr. Darcy and Shutting Down the Tower of London.

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