TIME TO BE WICKED
I love a good musical and have seen now seen several. I can't see myself enjoying any as much and certainly not more than my favourite "Les Miserables" but, if they are HALF as good then that means, for me, they are worth watching.
I had been meaning to go and see 'Wicked' for ages but hadn't got around to it until this October. My teenage daughter has seen it a few times and knows all the songs. As she is studying musical theatre and practices her singing on myself and her dad, we are also familiar with the songs from this musical. My husband and I both like "For Good" best and as our daughter has sung this on momentous occasions (for her and us) it's very special for us. Now, hearing this song can bring a tear or two to our eyes. Knowing something of the musical score is a great help for us when choosing a musical to visit.
My daughter has seen a few different casts in this show including Kerry Ellis as Elphaba, but she told me that Rachael Tucker was brilliant and so was Gina Beck, as Galinda). I knew a cast change was imminent but hoped we might manage to see Rachael Tucker before she left the show.
My husband and I chose to go to see a Saturday matinee performance of this show and treat our daughter to a ticket, and meet her at the theatre. It isn't easy to arrange a mutually convenient time as she has rehearsals and performances often.
A WICKED PLACE
Wicked the Musical is showing at The Apollo Victoria. We had a bit of a journey as some of the central line underground line wasn't operating due to maintenance and other lines had a restricted service also, but we managed to get there with time to spare. We had to change lines but when exiting Victoria underground station the theatre can be clearly seen opposite. Building work is taking place in this area but this didn't cause a problem, just spoiled the view a little in respect of taking photos around the theatre.
I booked (only a few days before our chosen date) directly by telephone with the theatre. The assistant in the box office was helpful. As this was near to time we wanted to go I wasn't sure if we would get good seats. I usually prefer the stalls but my daughter assured me that with this particular show it didn't matter too much if one wasn't close up as the show is a spectacle with great scenery and all of the stage being used. I was told that three seats were available in the circle just a few rows back. I enquired as to whether these seats were any good and he said that he'd sat there himself and thought the view was good. The seats cost over sixty pounds each (I save reviewing proceeds for this purpose and then I don't feel guilty about spending so much) and I paid by debit card.
I was pleased with our seats. We were fairly central and there was an empty seat next to me so I didn't feel at all hemmed in. The rake of the seats, I felt, was good, and we all had a good view of the stage. Theatre glasses were available for hire (I can't remember if they were fifty pence or one pound) but I didn't use these as find them a little annoying.
We weren't far away from the toilets but of course the usual queuing was involved.
WHY THE WITCH BECAME WICKED
Wicked the Musical tells (its own take) how The wicked witch of the west (infamous through L. Frank Baum's book, 'The Wizard of Oz) actually became a 'WICKED' witch, and tells the story of her life. Based on 'Wicked-the untold story of the witches of Oz' from the novel by Gregory Maguire, we see how she was a good 'person' but was, from birth, unloved and misunderstood, and also often avoided due to her green coloured skin. Elphaba was certainly not 'popular', at least not until taken in hand by the good witch Galinda/Glinda. There are links to The Wizard of Oz, although these are loosely based. I haven't yet read the book Wicked (although it's here in my home) but have heard it is much deeper than the musical version. This I can in believe though when seeing in the show the mistreatment of Professor Dillamond, Elphaba's teacher and friend. I imagine there could be more to tell here, in literary form.
Circumstances led to Elphaba seeming to become 'wicked' but I must say I empathised with her, along with the whole theatre's audience, I believe, but you would have to see the show to understand that she wasn't really wicked at all.
I loved the scenery, and the show is indeed a spectacular. I also adored the colourful and fantastic costumes, especially those of the glamorous good witch Glinda.
The flying monkeys are also worth a mention and great to see.
WICKEDLY GOOD CAST
I had heard, before going to see the show that Matt Willis of 'Busted' fame as Fiyero, the male lead, wasn't great but, as far as I was concerned, he played his part well enough. I would say this was a very good cast in terms of any musical, although this being the first time I've seen the show I can't compare to other casts of 'Wicked.' My daughter has now seen this cast twice and other casts and says this was overall the best cast she had seen.
This was the last day for Rachael Tucker and Gina Beck to star together in Wicked. Rachael Tucker was heavily pregnant but still gave an energetic performance. As this was the last day of shows (matinee and evening performance) for most of the cast there were strange things happening and 'muck ups' My daughter explained why some of the things said were funny as this wouldn't be patently obvious for first timers of the show. We were told they had been told to tone it down for this reason. I thought the sense of mischief added even more to the atmosphere.
This was the cast that we saw:
Rachael Tucker Elphaba (green witch)
Gina Beck Galinda ( Blonde witch!)
Matt Willis Fiyero
Julie Legrand Madame Morrible
Keith Bartlett The Wizard of Oz
Lillie Flynn Nessarose
Christopher Howell Doctor Dillamond
Adam Pettigrew Boq
I had to agree with my daughter that these two actresses (Rachael Tucker and Gina Beck) did a brilliant job throughout the show, both with their acting and brilliant vocals. I was so pleased we had seen them star together in these roles.
The songs I liked best were:
'For Good' which is a witches duet
'Popular' as, although this isn't a favourite song of mine, I felt that Gina Beck's rendition was superb.
'What is this feeling' sung by Glinda, Elphaba and students of the school.
'As Long as you're mine' Elphaba and Fiyero
'I'm not that girl' Elphaba
I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed this show and so did my husband. All songs in the context of the show were superb and vocals were great.
As this was the last show for many of the cast, including the two female leads, there was an air of fun and of this being an extra special performance.
It's a good plot and quite clever, I thought, with a tale to tell of discrimination and prejudice. Wicked has its sad moments and drama aplenty but interspersed with this is a great deal of humour.
Summary: I would go to see this show again