Jul 24, 2006

Jerry! Jerry!

I've been asked how an American celebrates the 4th of July in England or any foreign country for that matter... and although I can't speak for the Americans, I can tell you how this Canadian who is a legal resident alien of the United States spent her 4th of July in Brighton.

Yes, I know I'm a smart aleck.

It's been a little while, so I'm not sure that most of you remember that the 4th was a Tuesday, which is only relevant because for the first session I had class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That day in class we studied, ironically, the British constitution. I'm still wondering if my tutor chose to cover that subject on that particular day, or if it happened purely by accident. Regardless, I learned about the British constitution on the day that I was supposed to be celebrating American independence from the very same country. Funny stuff.

A little while after class I went into Brighton to see Jerry Springer: The Opera. Before you get a puzzled look on your face let me explain... I'd heard it was good a good show, as well as controversial, and it's won quite a few awards including Best Musical, Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Sound. It thought it might be something worth checking out, and call it morbid curiosity, but I wanted to see how they managed to turn Jerry Springer into opera.

I hop the bus and get off near the Royal Pavillion... but unfortunately my map isn't that great so I decide to follow the signs. Bad plan. The first one I see is a bit off, and I end up in the Laines instead of anywhere near a theatre. Don't get me wrong, the Laines are nice, but shopping was not on the menu. I wander for a good half hour, and then decide to give up on the signs. The map eventually gets me there about 30 minutes before the box office opens, so I ran up the street for some cheap subway before heading back.

Here's where it gets interesting.

I walk into the foyer and up to the ticket window. I hand the woman my confirmation number and name and wait. She asks for photo ID and I dig out my license, expecting to be given it back, ticket in tow. Then she asks for the credit card I use to purchase the ticket, but it doesn't seem like that strange of a request. Next she wants to know what seat I'm supposed to be in which is a little odd because I would have thought it would come up on her computer. I tell her that I booked the center stalls, row K and although I equate stalls with a public bathroom, she doesn't look at me like this sounds strange. Unfortunately, none of this information helps her to find my ticket, and she sends me to another window.

The first question the guy at the next window asks is which show I'm planning to see. I thought it was pretty obvious but apparently not. When I tell him Jerry Springer he just chuckles to himself and tells me that I'm in the wrong threatre. I'm about to be incredibly embarassed when he tells me that it happens all the time. Theatre advertising in Brighton seems to overlap quite a bit, and to be fair, there were flyers for the show I was going to see in the foyer of the theatre where I was standing. However, I was at the Brighton Theatre Royal, and needed to get to the Brighton Dome.

Yeah, there's the Theatre Royal...

I still felt like an idiot, but it was pretty funny I suppose. And there have been more embarassing moments since, so in perspective this one was pretty minor. I guess it's just one of those instances when you're reminded that you're a tourist.

For those of you that are curious, this is the back side of the Dome, which is literally across the street from the Royal. But back to the story...

So I head out from the theatre and round the corner to the ticket office for the Brighton Dome.

I'd show you the whole thing, but the street in front is torn up for construction and the giant red gates just aren't attractive.

I wasn't sure I was in the right spot, and then I saw the protestors. Yep, protestors. They weren't loud or rowdy, they just held signs and passed out pamphlets. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures for you... I was a little short on time.

The theatre was much smaller than the Lyceum Theatre where I saw The Lion King, but it was a good size for this show. It was also very ornate, but what theatre isn't I suppose.

The ceiling... well, a quarter of it, with a sepia tone. Looks a little unreal doesn't it?

And a quick shot of the inside just to show you the tile work that was pretty much every where.

I didn't notice until much later, but the tickets caution the use of strong language and within about a minute it's rather obvious why. The opera is much like the actual show, but with much more humor and rhyming. It's also interactive, they try to get you to cheer and chant and throw your hands in the air.

It was an interesting musical. Sometimes I wasn't quite sure what they were saying because it's opera, and because British slang is different than anything I've ever heard. There were certainly a few strong voices even if they weren't showcased as best as possible all the time.

Ultimately I can see why it's controversial, and why many would find it offensive. I was expecting it and took most of it as ridiculous exageration for the sake of humor. I also thought it raised some important issues about the representation of minorities and fringe culture, but no one really wants to hear that stuff so I'll skip it. I also found it interesting that this wasn't originally Jerry Springer's idea, and that he isn't making royalties off the show.

I guess I thought it was worth going to, but it's not my favorite. I'm not telling people that they have to go see it, but if it interests you I do think it was done well enough to entertain.

But The Lion King... now that's a musical.

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