I saw Wicked when it originally opened way back in 2006. I thoroughly enjoyed it and so the opportunity to revisit it all these years later was something I was keen to do.
How has it weathered these last 6 years?
Well it was a Tuesday night and the place was packed, with a hugely diverse bunch; tourists, families, couples, young, old and me the critic! The Apollo Victoria is a large theatre to still be packing the crowds into, the fact that this show is still doing that is testament to the quality of the show. Overhearing a few conversations during the interval also revealed a great many around me were on their second viewing (like me) or had been 3/4 times already. What keeps drawing people back for more?
Firstly it’s a well structured musical, it has a constant climb culminating in the jaw dropping Defying Gravity that closes Act 1. This is then continued through Act 2. The story is a very clever take/prequel on the Wizard of Oz. Which appeals to young and old alike. It has a moral to the tale, but it’s cleverly woven into the text and never feels preachy. I’d also forgotten how much humour there is in the show, some genuine laugh out load moments. It’s always argued that a musical needs a great story first and foremost, Wicked certainly does.
Musically it is a superb score, again I’d forgotten how good the songs are AND how witty and clever the lyrics are as well. I was reminded why this show caused such a stir when it arrived in London back in 2006, finally we had a new musical that wasn’t a rehash of some old pop songs. The songs cover the whole gamut of emotions from comical to tear-jerker to songs that just blow you away.
Normally I buy a programme before I take my seat, when I go to a show. Last night I thought “no need, got one from last time.” Yet the moment Act 1 was over I rushed out to foyer to purchase one as I HAD to know who this phenomenal cast was and especially who was playing Elphaba and Glinda.
Hayley Gallivan was Elphaba, in what is one of the best musical theatre performances I’ve ever seen, outstanding vocals, that literally had the hairs on the back of my neck raised as she sang, especially Defying Gravity. She commanded the stage as the “wicked” witch and communicated the journey this complicated character makes with skill and sensitivity.
Michelle Francis was the “good” witch Glinda in what was another sublime performance. Her interactions with Elphaba were superb and in her songs she got to show her fantastical musical talents.
The show is really all about those two characters, and rightly so, but the rest of the cast gave their all, to me that’s what I was most impressed with, the cast came out from first second and gave their all to this show and didn’t stop until the curtain fell at the end, to standing ovations and rapturous applause, whoops, cheers and me crying out “BRAVO!”
So what more could you want? Great score, clever lyrics, a story that’ll make you laugh and think, a cast going at full throttle , stunning costumes, a set that is magical and 2 of the best performances on the London stage. I certainly won’t be leaving it another 6 years before I return to be caught up in the magic of the witches that is Wicked.
STARS : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
For great deals on tickets for Wicked go to Shows In London.co.uk