Thursday, July 12, 2012

Harry Potter, demon barbers and green witches, oh my!

So I'm finally getting a little creative with the names of my posts, sorry it took nearly a month.  It also keeps you guessing at what I'm going to write about, which works for me.  Today, Becky and I decided to hit up some Harry Potter sites not covered in our walking tour earlier this week.

Our first stop was the famous Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station.  This isn't at the actual platforms 9 and 10, but outside so people can pretend to run at the wall.  Now, in the books and the movies, Hogwarts students must run directly at the wall between the two platforms to get to the magical platform where the Hogwarts Express is waiting to take them away to Hogwarts for a year of study.  J.K. Rowling picked Platform 9 3/4 because she got Kings Cross Station confused with another station where there really is a platform between 9 and 10.  Later she found out she was wrong, but she didn't change it since the books had already been published.  It works though.  As you can see in the photo, there's part of a trolly attached to the wall, and if you ask random guys who work at the shops in the station where the Harry Potter trolly is they know exactly what you're talking about, pretty cool, right?

Now, you might or might not recognize this Harry Potter film location.  This is in New Square in London.  To Harry Potter fans, however, this is Number 12 Grimmauld Place, childhood home of Sirius Black and headquarters to the Order of the Phoenix.  This exact house, number 10, is the one Harry and the rest of the Advanced Guard stares at while Grimmauld Place magically appears in front of them (it's hidden between numbers 10 and 14).

The Australia House (the Australian Embassy), used as the exterior for Gringotts Bank in Sorcerer's Stone.  Gringotts is the wizarding bank, and one of the most secure places in the wizarding world.  It even had its own dragon...until Harry, Ron and Hermione used it to escape in Deathly Hallows.  Like I said, it's the Australian Embassy, so you can't go inside or anything like that, but it looks gorgeous (we looked in the glass doorway out of curiosity).

This may look like a normal tube stop, and it is, kinda.  This is Westminster Underground Stop, literally at the doorstep of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, and only a few short blocks from Trafalgar Square.  This is also the Tube stop Harry and Mr. Weasley go down to when they go to the Ministry of Magic in Order of the Phoenix to clear Harry's name after the whole dementor thing.

Alright, that's it for Harry Potter sites.  This is a seemingly inconspicuous doorway at the end of an alley on Fleet Street.  That isn't the case though.  This doorway apparently lead to the barber shop of the one, the only Sweeney Todd!  Legend has it, Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, killed his victims while they sat in his barber chair getting a shave. 

The chair would then tilt back, and the bodies would slide into the basement of this gorgeous church, St. Dunstans-in-the-West.  Mrs. Lovett would then use the meat from those victims to bake her delicious meat pies.  When the pair was finally caught, apparently the bodies reached the ceiling.  They were tried and convicted.  Rumor has it Mrs. Lovett killed herself, and I'm not sure what happened to Sweeney Todd.

Our last stop for the evening was to see the wonderful show Wicked.  Both Becky and I have seen it before, but it's such an amazing show, it should be seen multiple times.  The musical follows Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West.  Things are not as they appear in Oz though, at least not how they appear in The Wizard of Oz.  Characters you thought were good might not be so good, and characters you thought were bad may be simply trying to make the world a better place.  On top of that, you learn the interesting back stories of characters such as the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, Glinda, both Wicked Witches and even the Wizard of Oz himself.

Wicked will turn everything you think you know about Oz on its head.  The music is stunning; it's powerful, intense and full of passion.  Don't take my word for it though.  Below is the song Defying Gravity, one of my favorite songs in the world.  The message is something everyone should listen to, and it's performed by my favorite performer, Idina Menzel.  Now, there are rules to listening to this song.  You MUST turn up your speakers as loud as you possibly can, if you don't, you won't do the song justice.

Well, that's about all I did today.  It's after midnight here, and I have an early morning tomorrow.  Until then though, enjoy the music (remember, speakers all the way up!).

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