I am sitting in the lobby of the Future Inn Cardiff Bay, online for the first time in days. And it has been an exciting and delightful week. I left Durham this morning by train; spent most of the day looking out of the window (mostly wondering what I was seeing, besides lovely countryside) and ended up in Cardiff, where I failed to meet up with the Torchwood fans I'd hope to meet this evening - bad timing, as I was later than anticipated - and so I took the chance to see The Sound of Music
at the Millennium Centre.
Let me say it again, because I like the way it sounsds: I saw The Sound of Music
at the Millennium Centre.
This was my favourite movie when I was twelve, and has ever since had a place in my heart, but I've never seen it as a stage production. I of course wanted to see it with Connie Fischer, and that's a John Barrowman connection, since I watched How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?
, the London version,, whereby she got the part. And she is delightful
in the role.
But it gets better. I hadn't realized, when I bought my ticket - and yes, they were sold out, but as I came running in moments before the curtain went up, there was a returned ticket - I hadn't realized that Michael Praed was playing Captain Von Trapp. I've loved Praed since Robin of Sherwood
, but he really won my heart in a performance of a Daphne du Maurier mystery I saw in London in the 1980s. He was stupendous.
Now, Christopher Plummer, who played Captain Von Trapp in the Julie Andrews movie, is one of my favourite actors and would be hard to beat. But Michael Praed was wonderful - absolutely wonderful. Next best thing.
And it was, of course, in the Millennium Centre
, a beautiful theatre known to Torchwood
fandom because it overlooks Raold Dahl Plass with the Torchwood Hub underneath, and the Torchwood fountain. Which is inexplicably covered in giant strawberries at the moment. I have a feeling Ianto would object. Nonetheless... The Millennium Centre, with its bilingual poetry on its front and its magnificent presence and its general hugeness. I was in a top balcony and it was high enough for my fear of heights to kick in, looking down at the stage. I didn't let that deter me. You know what it's like, to see those giant letters overlooking the Plass. It's even better to see them from the foyer, from the multiple levels of the theatre complex, windows spelling out their text backwards.
And the theatre programme (which cost me three pounds fifty) is totally bilingual in Welsh and English, making it a linguistic thrill. They didn't translate the song titles, for some reason.
There was an emergency during the first act - the first time in all my years of theatre-going I've experienced this. Someone a few yards to my left started screaming. They had to stop the show and turn on the lights. I didn't know what was going on till the intermission - it was a scary thing to happen. Turned out a woman choked on her chewing gum and was asphyxiating - needed immediate first aid. Luckily she got it from a nurse sitting nearby, and survived. Then the show went on, starting from the beginning of that scene - the confrontation between the Captain and Maria when he objects to he children wearing curtains and she quits.
There was an empty seat beside me, so I was able to move over so that the woman beside me could sit with her husband, who had a seat a few rows ahead. This was occasion for a little conversation, and they were utterly delightful. In fact, time after time on this trip, people have been amazingly nice to me. The English (and, it seems, the Welsh) are so very friendly, and kind to travelling strangers.