Last night we were lucky enough to attend the press night for Wicked the Musical. Wicked is now showing at the WMC until the 24th November.
Wicked the Musical, is a back story to the much loved classic The Wizard of Oz. The story starts before Dorothy’s arrival in Oz and continues just past her returning to Kansas. But this time, the story is told from a completely different viewpoint. It is the story of an unlikely friendship that blossoms between Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch. It will turn everything you thought you knew about the Wizard of Oz characters firmly on its head.
Wicked the Musical Review
The story starts with celebrations of the news that the Wicked Witch of the West is dead. We are then transported back in time to when Glinda and Elphaba first meet as students at the Shiz Witch School. Elphaba is immediately outcast due to her green skin, while the popular but sickly sweet Glinda can do no wrong.
Despite their initial unadulterated loathing of each other, a strong friendship develops. The brattish spoilt Glinda learns how to to put others first while the natural heroine of the story Elphaba, arguably learns the most, in that she can open up her heart to let others in.
Wicked first hit Broadway in 2003 and has just celebrated its 15th year. It launched in the West End in 2006, and despite initially receiving mixed reviews, is now the 5th longest running musical currently playing in the West End. Wicked is a three time winner of the Whats on Stage Award for ‘Best West End Show’ and a two time winner of the Olivier Audience Award. It’s success is not surprising. Not only does it have a delightfully colourful stage production and some belting songs to boot, but it also has a completely original story.
Whilst there is an element of a love interest, refreshingly, this is a mere sub-plot. The main premise of the story remains that of a friendship between two girls. It is fantastic to see two female leads taking centre stage for a a change. It is not surprising then that Wicked has reportedly won the hearts of many young girls who have identified with it. And it is most definitely a show I would love to take my little girl to see when she is that little bit older.
The whole cast put in strong performances. The two female leads, Amy Ross as Elphaba and Charlie Baptie as Glinda, were both utterly amazing. Baptie is the understudy to Helen Woolf who will play the role going forward in Cardiff. But Baptie certainly gained her place in the spotlight last night and was delightfully charming as the brattish Glinda.
Ross and Baptie harmonised perfectly in their duets and their solo performances were flawless too. Favourites for me were Baptie’s rendition of Popular, delivered with genius comic timing and of course ‘Defying Gravity’ which was belted out by Ross as she rose up high from the stage with her broom, her dress flowing out beneath her taking over the whole the stage, to close the first act.
A mention too to Aaron Sidwell (best known for Steven Beale in Eastenders) who was a natural on stage. His voice had a lovely tone to it, and although there were moments when it was lost against the orchestra or versus Ross in the duets, I thought he was brilliant in the role.
The whole production was in itself spellbinding. It was a feast for the eyes, with its delicious extravagant costumes, luminous vivid green emerald city, flying monkeys and a red eyed dragon that watched over us for the whole show. It was as fantastically flamboyant as I hoped it would be.
Verdict of Wicked the Musical
I thoroughly enjoyed it! For me it doesn’t quite live up to the story and songs featured in the original Wizard of Oz. But then again, I am admittedly a huge fan of the Judy Garland film, so perhaps that is a little unfair. I also think, the links to the Wizard of Oz could have been a little stronger.
Yes we find out how the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion come about, but I thought that overall the connections were a little weak. But that is a minor criticism of what is undoubtedly a fantastically imaginative and enjoyable production. To sum up, Wicked is a show I would have no hesitation in going to see again. And that of course, can only be a good thing.
Wicked the Musical is showing at the WMC until 24th November 2018. Be quick as the tickets are flying out and there is only limited availability left.
Tickets from £20.00 – £72.50
Age guidance 7+ (no under 2’s)
Running time – 2 hours 45 minutes (including interval)
Booking at: www.wmc.org.ukm
Thank you to Wales Millennium Centre for inviting us to the press night of Wicked the Musical
All photos courteous of the Wales Millennium Centre. Credit Matt Crockett