England v Chicago

I love coincidences. Like booking months in advance to see a 3pm performance of Chicago in the West End only for England’s first match at the World Cup finals to be scheduled to start at 2pm on the same day. Yes, coincidences, I love ’em.

Lynda, Louise, Andy and I trained from Cambridge, Chef trained from High Wycombe, and we met outside Covent Garden tube just after 1pm. It felt more like Rome than London due to the heat, but a Rome invaded by England supporters. After an air-conditioned toasted panini we found a pub yards from the Cambridge Theatre so we could watch the first half. I’d predicted 1-1, but the early England goal was a worrying development: early goal for leads to cockiness leads to two goals against. I think it was Yoda who said that.

With ten minutes before curtain up the half-time whistle went and we dashed out to take our seats. Louise’s dad was primed to text her any footie developments.

We had an excellent view from the back of the stalls. But the heat was stifling, and Lynda – suffering from an early morning late night – had trouble staying awake during the first act, despite the talent on display. Andy failed to heckle Bonnie Langford, playing Roxie Hart, for her crimes against humanity in Doctor Who. A fat man last seen as one of the cast of the sitnocom Bread played Roxie’s husband Amos. Some pseudo-Sacha Distel garlicked up the role of Billy Flynn. Someone ejected from X-Factor by the great British public played Mama. There were lots of jazz hands.

At half-time in the show, Louise confirmed the full-time score in the football. Shame there hadn’t been more England goals – we’d speculated that we’d be able to hear cheers from outside, or someone in the theatre audience would find out and gesticulate wildly, or maybe even the cast would insert the news somehow – newspaper headlines feature more than once in the show. Still, 1-0 will do.

I was familiar with the musical numbers, the film having played in my presence (I wasn’t paying much attention to it) and having watched the excellent Channel 4 show Musicality (the winners played the major roles in Chicago in the West End, for one night only, and very good they were too). I think there must have been an American sitting not too far away, as someone kept yelling “Yeah!” after each number as us Brits applauded politely.

It was a polished performance: no slip-ups and technically very good (I am, of course, an expert in these matters). Since I find it hard to remember lyrics at all, I’m full of admiration for those who can sing “Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes they both/Oh yes, they both/Oh yes, they both reached for/The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun/Oh yes, they both reached for the gun/for the gun” while dancing, in time with everyone else.

Avaragado’s rating: peppered ragout

We stayed in Covent Garden for a pint at the Nag’s Head, met up with Sarah and Ades who were up from Bath for the day, and went for another pint at The Cove, nicely tucked away above a pasty shop with a view of the alleged entertainment badgering tourists below. Then to Fire and Stone, a posh pizza restaurant. None of yer Margheritas here: you get pizzas named after cities, such as the (may as well follow the theme) Chicago or Byron Bay. Occasionally non-intuitive ingredients, but very tasty.

Avaragado’s rating: bombay mix

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