Wednesday, July 22, 2009

this is london!

I’ve always wanted to take one of my groups on a walking tour of Westminster London, because although I can identify most of the buildings around there, I cannot tell you what happens in them. Or happened 50 years ago. Or 500 years ago. Usually I just make things up, like I do with the buildings in Paris. So I signed us up for our own private tour, called This is London!

My email confirmation came back telling me that our guide would be someone called “Fedora Jones.” We were all very intrigued, because what a mysterious name! Man? Woman? My initial thought was that Fedora Jones was like Cleopatra Jones, and that she would have a big afro and would carry a pistol in her knee-highs. But then one of the students suggested that Fedora Jones was actually more like Indiana Jones, and the fedora was merely a nickname for the kind of hat he wore. It was a tension filled ride out to Tower Hill as we eagerly anticipated the gender and character of our tour guide.

Turns out that Fedora Jones is actually Fedra Jones. So it was a typo. She’s a woman, and she was delightful. She told us some very interesting stories and we set her on many fascinating tangents. On a few occasions she called Levi “Madam.” She claims that the Americans and the English are “two nations divided by a common language,” and wondered if we called rubbish bins “trash wagons.” She also claimed not to know what a waffle iron was. I thought she was fantastic, and she answered all of our questions politely, even the super dumb ones.

Fedra took us all up the river Thames on a boat. Here is this happening:

We pulled into Westminster just as Big Ben was ringing 12:

One thing about Fedra, she does not like to talk over loud sirens:

Later Fedra asked me if I was a Mormon, because someone leaked that information somewhere along the tour. I said that I was. She seemed genuinely surprised, as if she had expected this:Anyway. We had a fantastic time and hope to book Fedra again for upcoming tours, especially since she can yell “GO!” loud enough to make sure we all cross the street correctly.

Tonight we saw A Little Night Music, which my friend Dave Tinney calls “the prettiest musical about adultery ever.” And he’s right. I’ve never seen it, but I thought the music was incredible. I have all new love and respect for Steven Sondheim, and for anyone who can sing his dissonant chords and incredibly quick lyrics in ¾ time. I thought the staging was powerful, and I thought “Send in the Clowns” was especially well sung by Hannah Waddington, who we saw as the Lady in the Lake in Spamalot two years ago. She was electric. But my favorite song of the night was “Every Day a Little Death,” which shows that two actors can sit through an entire song, sing it beautifully, and keep us glued to them. The posters for A Little Night Music claim it is “unmissable,” and I would have to agree. You can catch it when it transfers to Broadway in November!