Wicked!

May 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

 

Have you ever considered that the Wicked Witch of the West  from the Wizard of Oz was simply misunderstood? No? Well, you’ve clearly never seen Wicked then.

After seeing the show for the third time last week and falling in love with it all over again I just had to share my enthusiasm and passion for this wonderful production.

The story

The musical, now in its sixth year at the West End, is loosely based on Gregory Maguire’s book, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, and tells the untold story of the Witches of Oz.

Through fantastic songs, gorgeous costumes and quippy, laugh out loud dialogue, we witness the unfolding of the unlikely friendship between the beautiful and popular Glinda and the green-skinned, fiery Elphaba.

The  girls’ friendship endures throughout school but comes to a cross-roads, when their decisions about what is right and wrong set them on the path of becoming Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West.

One of my favourite things about the show is its constant, yet subtle, references to the movie that came before it – the Wizard of Oz. With lines such as “lemons and melons and pears, oh my” you can’t help but chuckle.

And including a back-story to how Dorothy’s companions, the Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow came into being, is to me, one of the cleverest parts of the production.

The costumes and set 

Elaborate, stunning and intricate are all accurate descriptions of the costumes worn by the characters in Wicked, particularly the supporting cast.

Sitting in the front row on this occasion, it was easy to see the amount of detail that went into the costumes. The clothes from the number, ‘One Short Day’, are probably my favourite – all very green, all wildly outlandish.

The two female leads have costumes that are true to characterization. Elphaba’s outfits are rather subdued and simple, decked out in black, with Glinda’s are suitably frothy and glamorous.

The set itself is actually quite simple – with one notable exception: the time dragon clock, which sits perched on the top of the stage.

The performance 

(this is Rachel Tucker as Elphaba, singing ‘No Good Deed’)

The Wednesday matinee session saw stand-ins Nikki Davis-Jones as Elphaba and Chloe Taylor as Glinda.

I found Taylor’s acting of Glinda to be top-notch – with perfect comic timing and superb over-the-top theatrics. However, I felt vocally her performance wasn’t as strong as that by Louise Dearman who I’d seen in the role previously (and whom is no longer part of the production).

Davis-Jone as Elphaba gave a good performance – her singing was strong but it didn’t have the raw emotion and power that current West End Elphaba, Rachel Tucker has.

And in full disclosure, I have a minor girl-crush on Tucker, having seen her perform on my previous two viewings – the woman has a power-house voice and gravellyness that comes into ‘No Good Deed’ blows me away every time.

Now, I’ve seen Wicked three times and each time I’ve seen a different actor play Fiyero – the male love interest in the show.

This time was Matt Willis and although at first I wasn’t sold on him (his voice wasn’t as powerful as some of the others), he grew on me. I think perhaps because he brings his own bad-boy attitude to the role – helped along by the tattoos up his arms and slicked back hair.

Final thoughts

Despite the fact that the when Wicked first came onto the Broadway stage, and then to the West End, it received mixed reviews, I’ve yet to find someone who has seen it and disliked it.

I can honestly say, there is not a thing about the show that I can nit-pick at (but I’m sure there are those of you out there who can). And in my extremely humble opinion, it is one of the best productions to grace the theatrical stage.

Running in London until April 2013 I recommend you go and experience it – whether it is your first or tenth time. You won’t be disappointed.

Wicked is on at the Apollo Victoria. Nearest tube: Victoria. Check the website for performance times and ticket prices. 

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