Ames and Emily Bell showed up this morning, much earlier than I expected. Maybe they are just really Heathrow savvy, or maybe time accelerated on its own, but I was expecting to sleep in a little later than I did. But suddenly they were here. They blew in on the east wind to number 5 Queen's Gate Terrace, with yellow sunglasses and the world's tiniest coin purse. I was happy to see them! They are my program assistants/show directors this year.
Once they had settled in we all set out to do some errands: really important things like buying contact solution, hand soap, and tickets to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! We walked through Covent Garden and stopped at Benjamin Pollack's toyshop where Emily gushed over an Oliver Twist paperdoll theatre. Emily played Nancy in the recent Hale West Valley production, so she's a little Nancy-crazy. Ames was more interested in visiting the Moomin store, which he claimed was Japanese (where he served his mission) although we all clearly know that Moomin is Finnish (where I served mine.)
We all had an epic nap. I have nothing more to say.
So, this Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was stunning. The set was mind-blowing. One grand-scale magic trick after another, and theatre projections that actually work for the show! It's funny, it's surprising, and it's even touching in places. The music isn't that memorable - I couldn't sing any of it to you now - except for the final number, which is a spoiler I won't reveal. But it had the crowd in tears. I know these shows cost like a billion dollars, and I know it's all corporate sponsored and blah blah blah, but man, it's so exciting to see all that money on stage without feeling duped. When it's done like this, it's worth doing.
Afterwards the Bells took a photo with Douglas Hodge, who played Willie Wonka. He was fantastic. I saw him eight years ago playing Titus in Titus Andronicus at the Globe. Still one of the greatest theatre experiences I've ever had. I'm a big fan of Mr. Hodge.
Walking home by the river, we stopped at a traffic light. Immediately we were joined by Brendan Coyle, who plays Mr. Bates on Downton Abbey. "hey. hey. hey!" I frantically whispered to Ames. "It's....Downton Abbey...the guy..." I rapped Emily on the shoulder. "On your right....Downton Abbey...that butler...." And before I could remember his name, he shot across the street without waiting for the light. I'm sure he heard me. I don't blame him. I was acting so weird. I'm happy to report, though, that his limp has completely healed.