In just under a weeks time Wicked the smash hit musical which tells the hidden story of the Wizard of Oz, will celebrate it’s 6th year of residency at the Apollo Victoria Theatre and judging by the packed theatre on a Wednesday evening performance, this is a show that is not yet short of steam.
Stephen Shwartz’s Wicked, in short, tells the story of Frank Baum’s classic the Wizard of Oz, but pans the camera slightly off frame. It follows the story of two unlikely friends Glinda and Elphaba who struggle through school life, love and a corrupt government.
After a year’s break from my last viewing of the production, I must admit I was rather excited. The production values are still high, with award winning Scenic Design by Eugene Lee and Costumes by Susan Hilferty. It’s a production that will visually blow you away. Unfortunately, on the night, the show was somewhat let down by a seemingly tired ensemble (not helped with terrible live mixing which left company members sounding un mic’d) who just seemed to leave Wayne Cilento’s beautiful choreography looking rather sluggish.
But of enough of the downfall, Wicked still boasts a leading cast who were nothing short of astounding. Rachel Tucker completely blew me away as the ‘Wicked’ Elphaba, with faultless vocals and a witty characterisation that brought such a warmth to the part, her ‘No Good Deed’ was absolutely stunning, if there’s an Elphaba that should be recorded, this is the one. Likewise Gina Beck brought a maturity to the role of Glinda I’ve not come across before. Unfortunately Matt Willis was off for the night but the role of Fiyero was covered well by David Rudin who seemed to have a great connection with Ms Tucker.
I would like to add a tiny mention to a role normally forgotten about and that is Nessarose portrayed by Lillie Flynn. She sounded beautiful and brought a mature and graceful feeling to the role. It was unfortunate that the audience members behind us seemed to have no interest in the show when it came to her lovely rendition of ‘Wicked Witch of the East’, in fact they were rude throughout and it would seem the FOH staff were none the wiser. But that’s a topic for another day.
All in all, if you’ve got a family or you simply want a fun evening out at the theatre, see Wicked. Perhaps I caught a bad night for the ensemble, but don’t let it put you off. It’s the grandest show in town and who knows, on the night you go it may well be perfect.
Review by John-Webb Carter @johnwebbcarter