Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Parties & Panto

As Christmas approaches, the weekends fill up with holiday activities, and this past weekend was no exception.  Friday night we attended the monthly AWC cocktail party at one of the member's flats in Kensington.  Many people had already left town, but there was still a good turnout.  I had spent the afternoon baking Christmas cookies, so I brought a plate to share as my "holiday" themed appetizer.

Saturday afternoon we had our first outing to the New Wimbledon Theatre, which is just a few blocks from our house. 
The New Wimbledon Theatre at night
 It is a large, full-fledged playhouse, which often hosts West End/Broadway-style shows.  At Christmas time, they traditionally have a "Panto" or Pantomime play, which takes a familiar fairy tale and embellishes it with pop songs, cross-dressing actors, audience participation, and a celebrity cast member.  In this case, the show was Dick Whittington, starring Dame Edna Everage.  It was a full house, and about 50% of the matinee audience was under the age of 10, so it was quite a boisterous crowd.  We had great seats in the first row of the mezzanine, which gave us an unobstructed view of the stage without being in danger of getting picked on or sprayed by the cast (who at one point were wielding super soakers).  We weren't allowed to take photos during the show, but I did snap a couple before it started.
The sparkly curtain (and view from our seats)
Dame Edna made a grand entrance in her "possum gondola"
During the intermission (or "interval" as they call it here), they handed out special 3D glasses to everyone in the audience that resembled Dame Edna's signature glasses.
Dame Edna 3D glasses
I wasn't quite sure why we'd need 3D glasses to watch a play, but the second half of the show contained an underwater sequence projected on a screen that was right out of Finding Nemo.  The entire show was very entertaining, and while some of the singing, dancing, and choreography was less than stellar, Dame Edna was hilarious!  We'll definitely be back for next year's show, whatever it will be.

Saturday evening, we were invited to a holiday part at our neighbor's house, which they had originally planned for the following weekend, but then moved it back a week when Josh mentioned that we would be out of town.  They are so sweet!  They invited the occupants of all the adjacent houses on our street, so we got to meet several other neighbors that we hadn't seen before and get better acquainted with the few that we had.  It was quite a multicultural group.  In addition to our Kiwi/Aussie/Chinese hosts, and our Indian/American selves, there were a handful of South Africans and a guy from Sweden.  So much for getting to know more British people...  ;-)

I left all our Christmas decorations in storage in our house back in DC, but we felt like our house needed something to make it feel more festive.  I spent about $8 on a tinsel garland and a bead garland -- which I wrapped around the banister -- and some tiny red jingle bell ornaments, with which I decorated our rescued IKEA bonsai tree. 
Charlie Brown tree, UK edition
My neighbor, Anna, asked if we were getting a Christmas tree, so I explained that since we were going to be away for Christmas, and didn't have any ornaments anyway, we would have to make do with a Charlie Brown tree this year.  After seeing her puzzled smile,  I realized that while Charlie Brown and Snoopy are globally known, the animated holiday specials are only shown in the United States, so I had to give her some back story so she could understand the concept. 

Sunday we hunkered down at home and powered through our Christmas cards.  It took most of the day, but we had a great feeling of accomplishment when we were done.  If only we were so methodical about our Christmas shopping...

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