A group of Louisiana college theater students from Southeastern Louisiana University got the opportunity of a lifetime to experience the best of London theater while on a study abroad trip. Theater shows included “Warhorse,” “Wicked,” “We Will Rock You,” “Henry VIII,” as well as a tour and master acting class at the famous London Globe Theatre, a tour of the West End theater district, and a theater exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Several students talked about their theater experiences in London.
“Wicked” based on the novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” by Gregory Maguire puts a new spin on the beloved story and characters L. Frank Baum’s “Wizard of Oz.” “War Horse,” based on the book by author Michael Morpurgo showing at the New London Theatre tells the story of an adolescent boy’s quest to find his beloved horse during World War I. This show features incredible puppetry by the South African Handspring Puppet Company.
“We Will Rock You” is a futuristic musical about a group of hippies trying to revive rock-and-roll and showcases the music of Queen. “Henry VIII,” one of Shakespeare’s lesser known and more rarely performed plays showing at the famous, newly rebuilt London Globe, has a notorious reputation after the firing of a canon during the show set the theater ablaze burning the Globe to the ground on opening night of the play in 1613.
In addition to the plays these theater enthusiasts enjoyed taking a tour of the Globe theater where they learned about the history and rebuilding of the famous playhouse. They then participated in a master acting class at the Globe where they participated in interactive acting exercises including scene readings from “Henry VIII.”
The theater students also took a guided tour of the famous West End theater district in Covent Garden. The tour began at the Covent Garden Market, which inspired George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion” that opens with the leading lady, Eliza Doolittle, selling flowers at this exact site.
Other famous sites visited included Theatre Royal Drury Lane where “Oliver” is currently playing, the Lyceum Theatre where “The Lion King” is being shown, and the Royal Opera House which is famous for hosting opera and ballet performances. The tour concluded at the St. Paul’s Church, also known as the Actor’s Church, where many memorial services have been held to honor England’s well-loved actors.
Students even got to tour the theater exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum which houses a variety of theater memorabilia including costumes from shows such as “The Importance of Being Ernest” and small scale theater models and drawings such as Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Other notable items in the collection are posters from famous shows like “The Sound of Music,” a picture of famous actors Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh and popular British bands such The Beatles.