One more night, just one more night of singing, my neighbour would have gone berserk and made a complaint to the local council. But it wasn’t my fault really. After that life-changing evening at Her Majesty’s Theatre, I’ve become more and more aware of my (very) innate theatrical talent and profound passion for singing, so much that I decided to go all out and plump into some intensive home training to polish up my …*erhem* classical voice.
So I sang. For the past one very motivated week of my life, I sang my heart out, on the sofa, in the shower, over my pan-frying eggs, I sang like a prima donna to a full house.
That joy! That high-pitching joy!
But we can’t always have what we want. And Life always finds a way to make a fool of us. Especially my Life. Neighbours deemed a voice I thought so strong and powerful a “noise”. Quentin started using ear-plugs. And little Loewe next door didn’t wave at me any more. With my reputation put in imminent danger and my love life hanging by a thread, I had no choice but to give in and give up on this newly, but so passionately, harboured dream.
Shame that I was almost making to soprano…ish. Now, it seems that my only option and resort is AlexandraLuella, the faithful outlet for my artistic creativity.
I am sure you always understand me.
So, that life-changing evening.
It was last Saturday. Quentin and I went on a theatre date. We saw the Phantom of the Opera, an eminent musical that I was once so obsessed with and have always wanted to see it here in London, where it has been played superbly for more than 25 years.
And since it’s a theatre date night, it wouldn’t be perfect, would it, without first, going for a nice pre-theatre dinner. So, the night before, we made a reservation at One Twenty One Two, a restaurant in the Royal Horsegaurds Hotel.
And a tad over-ambitiously, we decided to go for the a la carte instead of the pre-theatre menu. It is a fine dining restaurant but we did our calculation – to have dinner at 5.30 , finish by 7 and walk leisurely to Her Majesty’s Theatre for show starting at 7.30 sharp. From Whitehall, where the hotel is located, it’s only a 10-minute walk to the theatre in Haymarket. We assured ourselves that it’s going to be a wonderful evening and everything will run smoothly and excitingly like the fizz in a bottle of good champagne.
And like I said, we can’t always have what we want. And Life always finds a way to make a fool of us.
Ambitious we were. The dinner turned out to be like a scene of Mission Impossible. It was fine dining… on fast forward.
A quick look at the Introduction page of the menu told us about a brief history of this restaurant. Long ago in about 800 A.D., most of the land in Whitehall was given to the Royal Family of Scotland. The building right next to where we dined was once occupied by Scotland Yard, the official residence of the Kings of Scotland in London, then turned headquarters of the Metropolitan Office in 1888. In commemoration of their former neighbour, RH Hotel named this restaurant after the renowned telephone number of Scotland Yard, hence “1212”.
Swanky place, no doubt. But now, back to food.
Once seated, we were given bread and a complimentary mise-en-bouche.
At this point, things were going quite well and casual. We took our time to savour the sweetness of the beetroot, complimenting how well it went with the crunchy salted caramel.
Then came our starters.
I chose the cinammon & oak smoked Gressingham duck. With slices of kumquats, shallot dressing and charred cauliflower, it was quack refreshing.
Quentin went for the slow roast Lincolnshire pork belly. Otherwise known as a little piece of heaven. On top of it were banana foam, stewed pineapple and grilled red cabbage. If I could, I would order two and make this the main. But I couldn’t and I didn’t have time to because by the time we finished our starter, we were getting a little antsy. The clock was ticking, the musical was starting in 40 minutes and we were barely halfway to finish our dinner.
After what seemed like an hour, our mains came.
Quentin’s dry aged beef with trumpet powder and braised brisket. With the mousse and porcino, the taste was marvellous.
For me, I had the new seasoned lamb. With baby fondant and rocket pesto, it was good but nothing extraordinary.
I must say that the service at 1212 was impeccable. We made known our concern and the kitchen was willing to speed up to assure we weren’t late for the musical, even though it was really our fault for not choosing the pre-theatre menu.
At 7.10pm, twenty minutes before the show started, we were at the peak of restlessness. Our desserts hadn’t come and we were considering cancelling them. The server stopped us, rushed to the kitchen and out of thin air, these two plates appeared.
My mango, green tea chiffon cake with a trail of passionfruit cream and coconut ice-cream; his orange-praline wafer, chocolate mud, marshmallow with lavender cremeux and caramel ice-cream. It was obvious that he won for his choice of starter, main and dessert that evening. I love my coconut ice-cream but his, the whole plate was a luxurious, decadent pleasure.
With Time running against us and two tickets costing way more than this dinner i.e. (£Phantom > £Food = RUSH), we gobbled up our desserts and ran to the theatre.
Quentin clenching my left hand, camera on my right hand and stiletto on my feet, I ran. I felt like a superstar in a movie for sure and here are some of my masterpieces caught in action.
Legendary, aren’t they? Feel free to stare at them all night and ponder about life by the way. It’s free.
We made it to the theatre 5 minutes before the door closed. And what happened after was magical.
No doubt everyone listened to the songs in rapture but the stage sets and props were beyond our imagination.
When the pit orchestra started to play and the actors sang, everyone watched silently in admiration. The tension was palpable, like everyone was trying to contain themselves so to not break into a round of applause.
Their voices were exquisite, the theatre was golden and our seats were perfect. The thrill you don’t normally get everyday.
I found a video of their performance few years back at the Royal Albert Hall. There has been some changes in their cast and costumes over the years but the quality in their performance remains. If you’re interested in taking a look, by all means, please go ahead. But I have to warn you that watching this on screen is nothing like that in the theatre.
The last time I watched Wicked, I was truthfully moved by their acting, but this time, I was more in awe at their singing.
Nonetheless, it was a beautiful night.
With love x