Last week myself and The Razzle In My Dazzle went to The Bridge Theatre to see 'Guys And Dolls'. Executive Summary: it was AMAZING.
Having got the tickets a while ago I think it's fair to say neither of us were hugely in the mood for a night out, but that feeling changed pretty much as soon as we walked into the building. The Bridge Theatre is NEW - it opened in 2017 (i.e. approx 100 years after most of the West End theatres) and feels like the architects had gone "All right, what's AWFUL about most old theatres, and how can we fix it?"
The first notable aspect of this was that you walked into a large open foyer with a MASSIVE bar all along one side, staffed by LOADS of Delightful Young People, which meant that you could get a drink almost immediately and then weren't shuffling around in aisles and tiny areas before the show started. It also meant we could mill around and bump into none other than Mr T Ellis-Jones, who I hadn't seen for YEARS. This was a harbinger of a GRATE night to follow!
We had tickets for the standing area, which meant we had to check our coats and bags into the cloakroom. I had thought that this would be a massive FAFF but it turned out to be brilliantly organised and super speedy. We then went down into the main theatre where we found ourselves in a big open area with lighted lines on the floor. It was IMMMERSIVE THEATRE so I expected this to involve the cast walking between us into different areas but there was MUCH more to it than that, for LO! the lighted areas ROSE UP in multiple configurations, forming stages and streets and islands and ALL SORTS so we could get right up close and walk around to different bits to get a better view if needed. It was FANTASTIC, not least because you could always see what was happening and were also INCREDIBLY close to the action.
And COR what action it was! 'Guys And Dolls' is a BRILLIANT show with a METRIC TONNE of GIGANTIC HITS and they did them all fantastically. It was also surprisingly MOVING, especially when you could get really close to Actual Actors doing Actual Acting and also THE SINGING. In the interval I wandered around humming 'I'll Know' to myself with GLEE and pretty much everyone else in the audience was BUZZING too. In fact by the end we were GRINNING so much that our faces LITERALLY HURT, and ended up DANCING with the cast after The Bowing - bowing which featured the stage management crew getting a round of applause and deservedly so, as they had spent the whole night politely but firmly shuffling people around to get out of the way of rising stage areas.
It felt like a wonderful, glorious experience that we didn't want to end - which is extremely rare for me, as I'm usually looking at my watch after 40 minutes of pretty much ANYTHING - but when it DID end we were herded out easily and calmly, popping to the merch stand for MERCH, getting our bags etc and then out into the night within minutes. It was fantastic and highly recommended, and we're now pondering if and when we can do it again!