By Richard Lamberth
A couple of weeks ago, we found ourselves jetting out of Faro on the way to the long-awaited stage premiere of Great Expectations in the West End.
Leaving behind wonderful warm sunshine and clear blue sky, it was a bit of a shock to land in a cold, damp Essex field now known to easyJet customers as London Southend! But the glittering West End beckoned once again and this time it was even more bright with the premiere for the new Bruce Willis blockbuster, A Good Day to Die Hard, also taking place in Leicester Square right opposite our hotel.
Checking in with our two boys, the excitement grew when the receptionist told us that Bruce Willis was there. It was slightly difficult to distinguish Bruce from his bodyguards as they all looked the same but at least the boys can say they saw the great man!
Suitably attired in tuxedo and cocktail dress, we headed to the Vaudeville Theatre for the Great Expectations premiere. Astonishingly, this is the first time this play has been on the stage in London, and a glittering cast led by Paula Wilcox as Miss Havisham and Chris Ellsion as Magwitch beckoned.
It is an unusual and refreshing take on a well-told story, with the action taking place around the famous wedding table and an older Pip always there observing and reminiscing.
The set is lavish and very atmospheric with lots of use of cobwebs, clever lighting and actors melting into the action seemingly from nowhere. The after-show party was great fun and we had a chance to meet some of our acting heroes like Jim Broadbent and Simon Callow and also some of the new theatre generation and, amazingly, Lucinda Hawksley, the great-great-great grand daughter of Charles Dickens. Lucinda is a writer herself with a difficult act to follow of course but a charming lady in every way (www.lucindahawksley.com).
A great night out if you find yourself in London over the next few months.
And then the next day – well, the cold rain turned to snow, briefly making London glow white and clean before turning to grey slush and traffic chaos. Time to head back to the sunshine.
0844 4829677 (Vaudeville theatre)