Living in Old Street

For the past 6 weeks, I have lived in London. I’ve had a great time exploring the city and the small area where my flat was located.
I lived off of the tube station, Old Street. The area got it’s name because the main road, old street, that runs through it is of ancient origin. It is part of an old Roman road connecting Silchester and Colchester, by-passing the City of London.
While living in London, I learned a lot about the city and the culture. There’s always a party in London. There’s always somewhere to eat. There’s always someone on the street asking for spare change. There’s always someone willing to help with directions.
Some of the many places I frequented while living in the Old Street area, I depicted in this audio slideshow.


Where I would take my family in London

A google map showing the different places I would take my family if they were here. I’ve been to all these places and taken pictures but just to show them and have them experience it would be so much fun.

I will be updating this frequently once I keep thinking of more places to add.

 


Wicked the Musical Review

Is Wicked the Musical one of the best shows ever to grace a Broadway stage? The music, the characters, the plot, and the fact that it’s a prequel makes it all the more dramatic. I was 15 years old when I first saw Wicked. It was the first musical I had ever seen and it was on Broadway. Ever since, I have had high expectations.

I laughed along to “Popular” as Annaleigh Ashford’s bubbly personality showed through. I cried when I heard Stephanie J. Block belt “Defying Gravity” before intermission. The show was  flawless.  I was really looking forward to seeing this show in London, but to my disappointment it was nothing like I had expected.

The night before I attended Wicked at the  Apollo Victoria Theatre in London, I saw Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre. I was throughly impressed by the show and so excited to see my favorite musical of all time the night afterwards. To my dismay it was a pale limitation of everything I had in mind. Glinda was too old. Elphaba went flat in “Defying Gravity”. The seats were awful. And they had british accents (I know I saw it in London, but Wizard of Oz is the most American show in history so I thought they might make more of an effort to Americanize Wicked).

Though these flaws were disappointing, there were several things I enjoyed. I know how famous Miriam Margolyes is, but I didn’t particularly like her in the Broadway production of Wicked as Madame Morrible. Julie Legrand was unstopable as Madame Morrible in the London show. Her character, her attitude, and her gestures were impecable. She was made for this role. Along side this, Julian Forsyth, who was cast as Doctor Dillamond, was also fantastic. I felt for Dillamond as he was taken away because he was an animal. When he came back and could no longer speak, my heart hurt for him. It sounds corny, I know, but that’s exactly what happened. Zoe Rainey, who played Nessarose, was amazing as well. She could have easily been the standby for Elphaba. Since 2008, Rainey played Amber Von Tussle in the West End cast of Hairspray. Many people said she was rumoured to be Glinda, but Louise Dearman was cast instead. These three cast members made the show for me. I was not familiar with any of them prior to this, but I am most definately a fan now.

Now on to the difficult part- the critique. I adore british accents, but was not looking forward to hearing them in Wicked. All of the cast members had one. Probably because they’re all british. It’s understandable, just not a reality I wanted to face. The most difficult part for me was hearing them sing with the accent. I caught myself singing along to the music. Yeah, I was that girl. In the song “As Long As Your Mine”, when Elphaba and Fiyero would sing the word ‘your’ it was so apparant they were british. It was awkward singing that word in my head with a harsh American accent as they have a soft british one.

Click here to view the British cast in London that I saw.

Click here to view the American Cast on Broadway that I saw.

Secondly, Elphaba. Oh, Elphaba. My favourite character in the entire show and who I hope to play one day. She went flat. On my favourite song in the whole world. Defying Gravity. It’s no wonder she is the standby. Lead Elphaba, Rachel Tucker, must have had an unexpected reason for why she could not attend because it was not said in the program that she would not be performing. Nikki Davis-Jones, the standby, was not a terrible actress. She did not have any chemistry with Glinda (I’ll get to her in a moment) but she had her own sort of chemistry. When she was alone on stage, it was captivating. She was evil, genuine, kind, and rude all at the same time- perfect combination for Elphaba. The only dreadful part about her was her voice. She didn’t have that powerful, strong voice that Elphaba is known to have. Better yet, on Defying Gravity the last ‘Ahhh’ at the end, was flat. Just a hair, but I noticed. I’ve sang that song multiple times and I am positive of the exact note that it should be. She didn’t nail it. I didn’t cry at the end of intermission like I did the first time so I was not completely satisfied.

The worst and most recognizable part for me about the show, was Glinda. 32 year-old Louise Dearman from Bletchley, England was, in my opinion, miscast for the role of Glinda. “Some people, from what I’ve heard, found her Glinda to be too cold-hearted and unkind throughout the whole show,” blogger ‘beautywickedlover’ comments on Broadwayworld.com. Really, the only way to put it is, Dearman’s personality and character is too old to be playing this role. When Kristin Chenoweth originated the role of Glinda on broadway in 2003, she was 35. Chenoweth is a legend and in every role she has ever played, she is bubbly; acting so much younger than her actual age. Dearman has played numerous roles that are dark and mysterious like ‘Lucy Harris’ in Jekyll and Hyde and ‘Grizabell’ in Cats. Nothing playful like Glinda. Dearman’s portrayl of Glinda was harsh and very overdone. It wasn’t realistic or bubbly like other’s I’ve seen. Her voice is naturally sort of deep, so when she fakes her preppy high Glinda voice, it faded in and out a lot. When I saw Annaleigh Ashford on Broadway, she was exactly what I had pictured Glinda to be. Basically the next Kristin Chenoweth, though that’s going a little far. I was extremely pleased with how Ashford protrayed the role. Louise Dearman is not old, I’m aware of that. But how she portrays Glinda in such a harsh way makes her seem older than what she really is and I believe its time for her to be replaced.

Click here to view Louise Dearman and Rachel Tucker perform ‘Popular’. This is the only song Dearman performed that day so her bipolar voice isn’t noticed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was my fault for buying terrible seats from a half priced ticket booth in Picadilly Circus. It got them for £22 and I was so excited, but I was literally all the way on the top row- nose bleed seats. I still had a good view, enough room to stretch my legs, but didn’t need specs. The couple in front of me wouldn’t stop moving and I had to keep moving around them to see the stage.

All-in-all, I would see the show again. I would most definately pay £22 to see it once more just not with the same seats. I love Wicked. I love everything about it, regardless if Glinda’s voice was bipolar or Elphaba had a slight mishap. I would recommend seeing Wicked somewhere other than Broadway first. Not even a West End show can beat Broadway. Then, once you finally do make it to NYC, you can be completely awed at the most magnificent show of our generation.


Q&A with Ben Gilbert

How old are you and where are you from?

I am 38 years old and I am from Essex, but currently in south east London.

Where did you attend university?

I attended the worst university in Britian, TVU in Ealing. I actually wanted to go back to school to get better marks and hopefully get into a better school but my mum wouldn’t let me take a year off.

What did you study at TVU?

I studied humanities at TVU and then took journalism qualification course at NCTJ so I could go more into the journalism field. I am in the process of recieving my MA in Media, Culture and Communications at the Institute of Education.

Why did you choose study humanities to begin with?

I was really unsure about what I wanted to do since my mum didn’t let me take a year off, but I knew I wanted to be a journalist. Humanities was sufficiently vague to allow me to be a journalist in later years.

What would your current profession be called?

I’m a music journalist.

How long have you been at this position?

I’ve been a music journalist for about 15 years but have been fully paid for 10 years.

When you were growing up, what did you want to be?

I’ve wanted to be a journalist since age 10 and a music journalist since I was 16.

What inspired you to become a music journalist?

I was inspired by the mythology around bands like the Beatles and Beachboys. Just the whole Rock N Roll concept.

What is the most interesting job you’ve had so far and why?

When I started at dot music and people thught the internet would be saving the world, which it sort of did. I was able to interview a bunch of different stars. Most notably Beyonce. I was also one of the first journalists to interview The Strokes in this country.

If you could switch professions, one realistic and one without consequence, what would be the next best thing?

Realistically, I would like to continue being a lecturer, teaching full time. Also I want to get a PhD or doctorate degree. If I could switch professions to something completely different I would want to be a game designer.

What would your dream job be?

To be the head of cultural corespondance at BBC or National.

 


DJ Pauly D teams up with the queen of pop, Britney Spears

“ITS OFFICIAL @DJPaulyD will be JOINING @BritneySpears on select dates of her #FemmeFataleTour!!!” according to the New Jersey DJ’s lastest tweets. DJ Pauly D will preform with the queen of pop  for six of her Femme Fatale performances.
 
Currently Pauly D, who’s real name is Paul DelVecchio, is wrapping up filming for the fifth season of MTV’s Jersey Shore. Beginning August 17, DelVecchio will head to Grand Rapids, Michigan for their first performance. Others dates include Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Indiana, and Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Britney is one of my favorite performers and certainly one of this generation’s most influential artists,” Pauly D told US Magazine.

When talking about what he plans to spin at the concert, Pauly says he will not be doing any of Britney’s songs before she performs. “I’ll let her perform, let her shine ’cause it’s her night,” he told MTV.  He does say that he may spin a few of her songs after her performance though.


London Waiters: You Suck

As one internet wag remarked earlier this year: “A good restaurant experience is like good intercourse; both parties have to be in the mood.” He could only have been thinking of dining out in England. Where one side, the waiter, seems to never be in the mood.

Currently, I am studying abroad in London and to support my college degree, I’ve been a waitress for the past four years. Though it was part of a chain and not known for its stellar service, we still cared about the relationships with our customers. In England, I’ve observed there is very little emphasis put on the relationships with customers in the food service. I suppose this is because sometimes even the customer isn’t in the right mood.

Since being here, I have dined out frequently in England. I would not compliment any of these restaurants on their waiting staff.

“Sure there are places in the UK that have good food,” a local Londoner said, “but how would the restaurant know if they’re doing a good job if they don’t ever ask if you’re satisfied?”

At all places, the food was edible but I felt as though no one really cared what I thought. When going to a pub to order food, you pay at the bar before even recieving your food. I wouldn’t say that you even have a waitress because they just come give you their food and that’s it. At a restaurant like Archipelago, Garfunkels, or Angus Steak House, don’t expect to be out of there in under an hour. It takes forever to get your check and usually you need to ask the waitress for it. I mean, I even look around and sometimes clank my glass to just get someone’s attention. It never really works and is probably more annoying than anything, but it seems like they just ignore you.

When I started working at Denny’s in Pennsylvania, I was 16 years old. My previous job was only at a small ice cream shop taking orders and making the ice cream. At that ice cream shop, only sometimes did we get tipped and if we did it would go in a basket and be split at the end of the night between both ice cream girls and the cook. We didn’t worry about service standards because we were getting paid regardless of whether we got their ice cream or food to them on time or not. This changed dramatically when I started working at Denny’s.

At training at Denny’s I was taught the national service cycle:

1. Seat customers at a table suitable for their needs (Not at a table 2 inches away from a bunch of british kids that talk like Harry and Charlie).

2. Hand out menus, silverware, and ask for drink order (‘What kind of drinks would you like?’ I ask for a diet coke. ‘A diet cock?’ Yes. A diet cock).

3. Promptly get drinks out to the table (It usually comes with the food. They just assume that your not thirsty unless food in front of your face).

4. Ask customers if they are ready to order, if not give them 3 to 4 more minutes. If they look ready before that, go to the table and ask once more (If you’re not ready when they come the first time, you better not expect to order for at least another hour. This is why I tap on my glass. I won’t lie; sometimes I even cough, clear my throat, move my chair around a bit).

5. Take order (This means write it down in a notepad!)

6. Get salads, bread, dressings, appetizer, etc. out before food (Appetizer? What’s that?)

7. If drinks are empty, bring out another if its a free refill without asking.  If its a drink you recommended, ask if they liked it before getting another and its a drink that does not have a free refill, ask if they would like to pay for another or would rather a water (My diet cock is literally the size of a dixie cup and they never ask if I want another one).

8. Get food out within 10-20 minutes  (Haha).

9. Check on food after first bite  (No, they don’t really care how it tastes).

10. Within 5 minutes of food, hand them their check (Within 5 hours of food, hand them their checks. Unless the customer coughs really loud or moves around a lot).

11. Pre-buss the table until all unused dishes are removed (There’s no point. The portions are so small it’s all on one plate).

12. Ask if they have left room for dessert (Even if I had left room, I wouldn’t order anything since a slice of cheesecake is £7).

13. Continue checking on the customers and asking if they would like refills until they have left the table completely (Once the food’s out, they’re done).

Along with everything else, tipping etiquette is very different in England than in the US. In England, unless you recieve fabulous service, customarily you do not tip (I don’t if I have to clank my glass to get my check). In many restaurants in London, every tip left at the table or on a credit card gets split among the staff of that shift. In the US, it is extremely rude not to tip at least 20% of your total bill. It is highly expected for a waitress in the US to receive a good tip so the waiters do the best they can to make sure their customers are happy.

I’ve realize that I am being a little unfair to all the decent waitresses in London out there. I’m sure there are some good ones, but none are trained like American servers. If this were the universal service cycle many more tourists (and Londoners) would most likely tip better. Then we would all be in the right mood.


Who Loves Karaoke?

Walking around Southbank is a little intimidating. No one really looks like they want to talk to you, but once you approach them, they’re usually friendly and willing to answer your questions. These group of girls that I approached were looking at the River Thames, casually talking amoungst themselves. I walked up to them and introduced myself and they were all very willing to participate in my first vox pop. They explained to me that they’re from England and came here to see a TV show be filmed in London. I didn’t ask which one though, which I regret now.