Apollo Victoria: Booking until May 2018
I’ve seen Wicked before but hadn’t written about it. Yesterday I saw it for the first time in London (as opposed to the tour) so I thought I’d share my experience. 🙂
Sometimes a show affects me in such a way that I feel as though a force is pulling my body forwards, as though I want to get as close to the stage as possible. It’s like I’m a marionette and invisible strings are gently tugging my body.
Not every show has this effect on me, but my recent trip to Wicked definitely did. It was immersive: I may have been sat in the Dress Circle (with an excellent view) but I lost all awareness of the rows of people in front of me. I was completely absorbed; transported to a magical world of witches and wizards and it was wonderful.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the story of Wicked, the musical is based on the book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West written by Gregory Maguire in 1990. The book gives a very plausible back story to the characters living in Oz before Dorothy arrives. In a way, it is the precursor to The Wizard of Oz, and focuses specifically on the lives of the witches. What makes it so special, in my opinion is how cleverly it fits into the story of The Wizard of Oz. It doesn’t try to reinvent L. Frank Baum’s writings, neither does it replace them. Instead it connects some of the key themes. It weaves into the well-known story of the farm girl from Kansas who is trying to return home having arrived in Oz by tornado, but it tells the story from a different perspective. There are many ‘oh, so that’s why..!’ moments when something clicks into place and suddenly makes more sense.
I had gone specifically to see the 10th anniversary cast, and was very excited to be seeing Rachel Tucker and Suzie Mathers in the roles of Elphaba and Glinda. Rachel returned to the show in the UK for the 10th anniversary, coming directly from Broadway where she had been playing the same role. Before that, she had first played the role in London for almost three years, meaning that she has starred as Elphaba longer than anyone else in the history of the show. Suzie had played the role of Glinda on international tours, and I had heard very good things about her, so to see these two strong leads together was breathtaking. There is such a variety of vocals in this show, from the extraordinary songs that Elphaba belts such as the iconic Defying Gravity, to Glinda’s soprano numbers, to gentler more emotional tracks. Every song was sung with so much emotion and power, and I feel very lucky to have seen such a stellar cast perform them.
Other cast members that stood out to me were Oliver Savile as Fiyero; a character who begins as a shallow and self-absorbed student, yet becomes very likeable as he matures and falls for Elphaba, and Anita Dobson, whose portrayal of Madame Morrible was exactly as I had imagined the character when I read the book.
I think there’s an inner child in everyone, and Wicked is definitely one to bring it out. I would be lying if I denied that my eyes shone with excitement as I watched open-mouthed when Elphaba began to fly during Defying Gravity. It was the most magical afternoon I have had in a while, and a real escape to another world.
Although this exact cast only have a few performances left, I highly recommend this show to anyone, as every cast member is unique and will bring something different to their performance/interpretation of characters. The story is beautiful, the music is outstanding and the whole thing is spell-binding, making for an unforgettable trip.