When Wicked first opened in 2006, it was to mixed reviews, yet nearly ten years later it’s become the tenth longest running production in London’s West End, is a multiple award winner and is packed out every night.
The stage production is based on Gregory Maguire’s book of the same name that takes a look at the origins of the notorious green skinned villain The Wicked Witch of the West and it is this aspect, as well as the huge numbers that make the show so popular.
The story follows Elphaba (new cast member Jennifer Dinoia) and Glinda (Savannah Stevenson) and their relationship with each other. Elphaba is the awkward outcast, green and passionate about animal rights whilst Glinda is the blonde popular airhead.
The production covers a lot of topics especially friendship but it also touches on darker subjects such as racism and prejudice and there are many lines in the songs that are comparable to the real world and are met with huge peals of laughter from the audience. “Celebrated heads of state or especially great communicators. Did they have brains or knowledge? Don’t make me laugh! They were popular!” sings Glinda in one of the best numbers, Popular.
The staging and costumes are stunning and a big part of why Wicked is so spectacular. We were lucky to have great seats and we’d encourage getting seats close to the stage as it’s tremendous to see just how special the costumes are, especially those from the Emerald city scene.
All of part one builds up to ‘Defying Gravity’, a song that has long been synonymous with Wicked and Jennifer nails it. It may be that her American accent is as similar as we’ve heard to Idina Menzel’s original Elphaba. We’ve seen a few Elphaba reincarnations and Jennifer vocally has been the strongest but as an actress who has been starring as Elphaba since 2007 in North America and internationally that’s no surprise.
The entire cast in Wicked are strong, especially the main trio of Elphaba, Glinda and Fiyero (Jeremy Taylor) – the heart throb of the story, and subject of an awkward love triangle. But what really makes this production is the ensemble who are spectacular.
For fans of the original Wizard of Oz story there are plenty of little nods to it which are particularly funny.
Whether you’re going with a partner, your mates or with your family, Wicked is a musical that everyone will find spellbinding and will probably leave you humming the songs for days, a great treat over the holiday season.
Photo: Dan Wooller