Sunday, August 21, 2011

Priscilla/My Dinner with Andre(w)

Thursday was the monthly AWC "matinee madness" outing, so I met several fellow expats at the TKTS half-price ticket booth in Leicester Square at 11:30 am.  After studying the list of shows with discounted matinee tickets for that afternoon, we managed to relatively quickly divide ourselves into two groups.  One group chose to see a new play called "Top Girls" and the rest of us bought tickets to see "Priscilla: Queen of the Desert."  Most of the other group had already seen it and promised that we would enjoy it.   At £46 per ticket (£20 off the full price), I certainly hoped so!

Once we all had our tickets, we went to lunch at a nearby Mexican restaurant.  As I've mentioned before, it's hard to find decent Mexican food in London, so my expectations were a bit low.  I was pleasantly surprised when they brought us free chips and salsa -- most restaurants here charge extra for everything -- but my chicken enchiladas were a bit disappointing.  It was as if someone had described them to the chef -- "spiced chicken rolled in a corn tortilla topped with sauce and melted cheese and served with rice" -- but he/she had never actually had them before.  The chicken filling was good, but the enchiladas appeared to have been baked ON the bed of rice with just a tiny drizzle of sauce and a sprinkling of cheese.  They should have just called them "taquitos."  They weren't bad, but they weren't really enchiladas, either.

As usual, the conversation turned to topics that frustrate American women living in London: laundry, customer service, shopping, things we miss, how expensive everything is, and leads on potentially better Mexican restaurants.  One woman who was headed to the DC area for a wedding asked for a recommendation for a shopping mall where she could just spend the day and stock up on clothes, shoes, and other stuff that's too expensive, hard to find, or just doesn't fit right here.  When I described Tyson's Corner Center and listed all the major stores, her eyes lit up.  She seemed more excited about shopping than the wedding.

After lunch, we split up and went to our respective theaters.  The four of us with Priscilla tickets headed to the Palace Theatre.
Palace Theatre
I don't want to ruin it for anyone who is planning to see the show, so I'll just say that it was FABULOUS!  (You can see a video promo and some photos on the Priscilla web site.)  They spared no expense on the costumes and sets -- and Priscilla herself was a wonder to behold.  A very entertaining show, and definitely worth paying a little extra to see.  I was a little surprised to see several small children in the theater, as parts of the show are a bit raunchy, to say the least.  (Several audience members went home with souvenir ping pong balls...)  But after the show I discovered that I was the only member of our AWC foursome who had seen the movie.  In fact, at least one of the other women didn't even know there WAS a movie!  OK, so maybe the people who brought their kids weren't familiar with the movie, either, but still...  Do a little research, people!

After the show, I took the Tube to Kensington to meet up with one of my Discovery friends.  Andrew was in London for a few days with his wife and two kids, and suggested we go out for Indian food.  I got a recommendation for a kid-friendly Indian restaurant near their hotel from another AWC member, so we met at the Masala Zone. (Lame name, good food.)  It's always a treat to see a familiar face when you're far away from home, and since Andrew and I worked together for more than 10 years -- he was my boss for several of them -- his face is pretty familiar. 
Naina & Andrew
We had fun catching up and swapping stories about our respective adventures in London.  They had visited some friends the day before who had also moved to London from the DC area, and Andrew's wife told me that in the 5 years they had been here, they had not made a single friend who was English.  Sadly, that's not as surprising as it sounds, and really says nothing about their social skills -- but it's especially poignant as this family has school-age children, so they must have plenty of interaction with other parents.  Sheesh!

Anyway, it sounded like they had managed to fit in a lot of fun stuff during their short visit, including seeing the Flying Karamazov Brothers.  They had never seen them before, so I admitted that I was a bit of a FKB groupie, and had not only seen their West End show last month, but had been enjoying their antics for at least 20 years.  It sounded like all four of them enjoyed the show, and Andrew's son told me which objects the audience brought for The Champ to juggle: a piece of fish, a bottle filled with a thick yellow liquid, and an iron.  It was challenging -- and quite messy -- but he managed to keep them in the air for 10 counts, so no pie in the face.

Andrew's daughter had a souvenir crown they had bought for her at the Tower of London.  She explained that it was just an ornament, but spent most of the evening trying to balance it on her head.  She got pretty good at it, and by the end of dinner she was showing off her new skill to other diners in the restaurant.
Mia, Nathalie, Naina, Andrew, Julien
Princess Mia
Fortunately, she is so adorable that no one seemed to mind, but since they'd had a full day and it was past her bedtime, we called it a night and I took the Tube home to Wimbledon.

What a fun day!  Lunch with new friends, an amazing show, and dinner with old friends.  It doesn't get much better than that.

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