June 8, 2016
So I did end up seeing Titanic last night, and it may have surpassed all previous shows in being my favorite; sorry Hamlet. Today is my dad’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Dad!), so in honor of him, I’ll give you his catch phrase about Titanic, “Spoiler alert, the boat sinks.”
The show was held in a very small theater in a very busy part of town. It actually took me quite a bit of time to find the theater because by this point, I have come to expect grand marquee signs and entrances to West End theaters. The Charing Cross Theatre was nothing of the sort. It was a small proscenium space with no bad seats in the house. I was lucky enough to be able to sit on the fourth row. This version of the Titanic is nothing like the 90’s movie that we all know and love, but it was spectacular even without the familiar story. The cast was very small and most cast members played more than one character. It was a musical depicting the stories of couples in all different social classes and backgrounds. This cast was the most vocally talented that I have seen this entire trip, including the cast of Les Mis. They were that good. This combined with the intimacy of the space created a wall of sound that moved many to tears. This is a powerful retelling of the legendary tale that I am so fascinated by.
This morning, we took a guided tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral. This is an absolutely beautiful church that is steeped in rich history and had a large role to play in both World Wars. I think I like this cathedral even more than I liked Westminster Abbey. The original cathedral was burnt to the ground in the Great Fire if London in 1666, but it was rebuilt by Christopher Wren (the same architect who built the Baroque section of Hampton Court Palace) between 1675 and 1710. The cathedral is made primarily of a white stone called Portland Stone which easily became dirty, especially from all the pollution around the time of the industrial revolution, but was restored to its original white color in the early 2000’s by the Fleming family. Today it is home to many wonderful pieces of art, memorials for many important people, and is first and foremost a house of prayer.
Again with the ceilings. The ceilings in all these old buildings are just gorgeous! I’m really so upset that we aren’t allowed to take pictures, because I would take so many pictures of the ceilings. They are so ornate and intricate that you would hardly believe that they are structural. So beautiful. I now have a new favorite ceiling of the trip. The east end of the St. Paul’s Cathedral holds the quire (where the choir sits and sings) and the high alter. The east end is also the top most portion of the Roman cross, in keeping with the traditional layout of many sanctuaries. While the majority of the ceiling in the sanctuary is white stone consistent with that of the walls, the ceiling of the east end is a gorgeous mosaic made up of more than 6 million pieces of glass and depicting the history of the earth all the way from creation to the life of Jesus. From a distance, the mosaic looks to be primarily gold and blue, but upon closer inspection, there is a whole array of different colors interacting to paint beautiful portraits. If you haven’t googled any other ceilings that I’ve told you about on this blog, definitely google this one.
After walking through the sanctuary, we went down to the crypt which houses the tombs and memorials of many famous artists, poets, architects, and political figures, including:
-A bust of George Washington
-A bust of Lawrence of Arabia
-The tomb of Horatio Nelson, the Lord who won the Battle of Trafalgar
The tomb of the Duke of Wellington
-Florence Nightingale, great reformer of nursing and hygiene
-John Wycliffe, theologian and Bible translator
-Christopher Wren, who is modestly buried where the very first stones of the foundation of the church were laid. A plaque written in Latin above him states, “If you are looking for his memorial, just look around you.”
After the tour, I returned to the hostel for lunch and had some time for resting, reading, and relaxing. It started raining pretty hard about an hour ago, but it seems to have stopped now, or at least slowed down. I’ve missed the rain and I am glad that it is back, because it has been quite hot here for the past few days, and not having AC doesn’t help the situation.
Tonight we are all going to see Mrs. Henderson Presents, which I am very excited for. We got to watch the movie while we were in class in Fayetteville, and I thought it was very cute. The play is a musical, so I am excited to see how the story will be presented differently in song from.