By Nicki Thompson
As I’m always looking for ways to inexpensively make the most of my remaining time in Europe, it was a VERY welcome surprise to be invited as a guest to see ‘London Calling,’ a live variety show playing at Roncalli’s Apollo Theatre in Dusseldorf. This show was produced specifically for Roncalli’s Theater so you won’t be able to catch the performance anywhere else. ‘London Calling’ is only showing until 30 March 2014, but the following show ‘Arrivederci Rome‘ showing from 3 April – 27 July looks just as entertaining.
‘London Calling‘ is a festival of artists demonstrating the creative uses and potential of the human body through acrobatics, impressive balancing acts and performances that seem to defy not only the laws of gravity but physics as well, interspersed with the comedic skits of two flamboyant prop comic MCs and burlesque style singing and dancing by scantily clad sexy women. There was even one act where a man threw gold rings into the air and caught them around his neck. Okay, it may not sound very impressive but his ability to engage the audience made his act one of the crowd faves. All of this is set against a London themed back drop.
I loved it because it made a nice change from the typical social conventions of dinner and a movie or going to a bar, and also because there is just something very special about watching live performances, being able to experience first hand the result of all the hard work put into hours upon hours of practice.
You sometimes feel like you’re the one onstage with the pressure of having only one shot to execute some crazy maneuver, as you sit there watching fixedly, holding your breathe, heart rate increasing as you root for the performer to get through the apex moment without incident.
The lobby of the theater is home to a modern bar, with a dining section off to the side, so whether you want to mingle and enjoy a cocktail and some munchies or have the full dining experience you can. Roncalli’s Apollo Theatre is adjacent the River Rhine making it a scenic spot to enjoy a meal and socialize whether you are going to see a show or not.
The lobby is always decorated according to the theme of whatever show is playing (yes, there is currently a red phone booth in the lobby) with a special art element that changes with each show which make for good pre-show conversation while you peruse the mini gallery with your companion(s). They are currently displaying paintings by Christian Gabel and metal works by Helmut Baur.
The interior of the performance hall has more of an old school vaudeville charm, with its red carpeting, red walls, red velvet curtain and tables and chairs arranged around the ‘thrust’ style stage over five levels separated by gold banisters. The experience is made complete with waiters dressed in white shirt and black pants, jacket and tie.
Our party went for the dinner and a show option. The new Chef since January 2013 changes the menu with each show and did not disappoint with his ‘London Calling’ menu.
Up first was a delicious smoked salmon tartar, accompanied by a fresh micro green salad drizzled in a honey mustard dressing served during the first half. The main was a “gourmet” version of Fish and Chips: a tender cod filet, with a side of ”potato tart” (something like scalloped potatoes) and topped with crispy beet chips. This was served during intermission which was nice because it allows you to break up the show with conversation as you enjoy your meal. The meal came to it’s conclusion with a rich and sweet peanut butter/chocolate mousse with side of kumquats and king cherries served during the second half of the show. The house red was pretty good too, I must add.
The 2.5 hour show passed in no time and a great time was had by all. So whether you are looking for something different to do in place of the regular old movies for a first date (or a hundredth date) with that special someone, or want to have a girls night out, or maybe just want to grab some food without the show then Roncalli’s Apollo Theater is a must check out spot for anyone living in Dusseldorf or the surrounding area.