Posted: 4/1/2008
Title: MR.BEAN MEETS CHARLES DICKENS

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      I really enjoy wondering around London's West End looking at the various musical and drama's on show. There are over 100 shows on tap such as CHICAGO at The Cambridge; MAMA MIA-Hammersmith Apollo; PHANTOM OF THE OPERA-Her Majesty's: SOUND OF MUSIC-Palladium; BILLY ELLIOTT-Victoria Palace; BUDDY (Holly)-Duchess; LES MISERABLES-Queens; MONTY PYTHON's SPAMALOT-Palace, and not forgetting THE MOUSETRAP-St. Martin's,the world's longest running play, over 56 years!!

    Les Miserables has taken over from CATS as the longest running musical. Cats was performed 8,949 times and closed in 2002 after 21 years. Phantom of the Opera is still going after 21 years.  I once saw Poppy, starring Michael Crawford (the story of the British opium trade in the Far East) and loved it, but didn't like Starlight Express(about trains) which I found boring.

    There are wonderful pubs for pre-show meals and drinks and nearby is the centre of The British Empire, Piccadilly Circus. However the BIG NEWS is about the revival of OLIVER with ROWAN ATKINSON of Mr. BEAN and BLACKADDER fame, and more,  as FAGIN, and opens in December.  The BBC TV 1 is having a Saturday night competition called I'D DO ANYTHING...to find the new Oliver and Nancy.and has 12 contestants for each role. www.bbc.co.uk/oliver. I listened to a fascinating  interview on radio a couple of days ago with  Mark Lester, the original Oliver,the movie, everyone's favourite Victorian orphan, who won the audition over 250 child stars at the age of 9 years old 40 years ago in 1968 for the popular and much loved movie.  Do you remember Jack Wilde as the Artful Dodger;Oliver Reed as Bill Sikes, Ron Moody as Fagin, Harry Secombe as Mr. Bumble, Shani Wallis as Nancy.?   Rowan Atkinson is worth more than $200 million and has a graduate degree in electrical engineering, collects cars, lots of them, including a number of Aston Martin's but refuses to own a Porche!!

    Lester was given a lump sum of over $150.000 at the age of 18 and he spent it on booze, drugs,fast cars, and houses-the rest he just wasted!! Fourty years on he is an osteopath in quiet Cheltenham, and not involved in acting though he has been offered a leading role in 1066 -the Norman conquest, a proposed new movie. Evidently Michael Jackson called him up a few years ago and said that he loved the movie and they have been friends ever since, and Lester spent 2003 Christmas at the Neverland Ranch.

    Don't think I have totally forgotten about Football.  Here is a quiz. Name the ONLY British football League team without any of the letters in FOOTBALL in its name!!!

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