What can I say? This show is beyond excellent. Wicked, currrently playing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre (and based on Gregory Maguire's novel) is an exceptionally wonderful show. It is no surprise that it has remained so popular over the years, and with audiences ranging from ages seven to seventy. I defy anyone to dislike this production.
There is something inexplicably enchanting about Wicked. Whether it is the fabulous music, the brilliant characters, or the way in which the show seems to take on a life of its own – I could not say. Perhaps it is that, from start to finish, and particularly during Defying Gravity, Wicked resonates with theatrical power and an almost pulsating sense of passion. It certainly offers everything that a West End show should: huge, epic scenes; a flawlessly polished performance; a big emotional impact – the list goes on. Suffice to say, the show was enough to turn me into a theatrical addict, from somebody who wasn't really interested in the stage, two and a half years ago.
The music of Wicked is a particularly impressive feature. From 'No-One Mourns The Wicked' to 'March Of The Witch Hunters', the songs build and build until you find that a spectacular wall of sound has been created – and is still building. Many musicals would have either this style of full-force, impressive music or funny, clever songs. Wicked has both. Popular, for example had me in fits of laughter. And yet, somehow, there is still room for those breathtaking solo parts, those belting moments: 'The Wizard and I', 'Defying Gravity' … the list goes on.
As far as design goes, Wicked, again, will not fail to impress. With wonderful lighting, extravagant costumes, a humongous metal dragon – oh, and a flying green lady – the visual feast offered during this production is excitement enough for anyone; when all of this comes together, the effect is absolutely memorising. And it does come together, repeatedly.
The choreography in Wicked is more of a supporting factor than a feature of its own. During most numbers, choreography serves to enhance the overall effect, but it is never quite at the centre of the audience's attention. This is not really a criticism, but if you want to go and see a musical because you like a lot of dance, I would probably recommend seeing something else.
Casting cannot be easy for a show like Wicked. The two leading ladies – Elphaba and Glinda – simply have to be perfect. The show entirely rests of them. Happily, Emma Hatton and Savannah Stevenson were just that. Emma Hatton, in particular, was unbelievably good. With a jaw-droppingly excellent voice, she made the most difficult numbers look effortless. I was stunned by her 'Defying Gravity', and charmed by her 'The Wizard and I'. As far as the rest of her performance goes, she was fantastically charismatic and believable.
I could not flaw the performance of Savannah Stevenson, who played quite a gutsy Glinda. I have already mentioned that her rendition of 'Popular' had me laughing in an unreasonably fervent fashion; the rest of her performance followed suit. Not only did she bring a lot of comedy to the show; she also drew the audience into Glinda's fairly flawed personality, and made them really care about the character. Her voice was, much like Emma Hatton's, stunning.
Fiyero was played by Oliver Savile, who was charming in every way: his voice was lovely; he exuded confidence – and his little 'Captain of the Guard' uniform certainly helped half of the audience to go away with a bit of a crush on him.
Boq and Nessa were played by (respectively) Daniel Hope and Katie Rowley Jones. The couple played off each-other very well. I think that Boq and Nessa are two quite underrated characters, but they are absolutely fundamental to the chemistry of the whole show, and it was a pleasure to watch these two. Similarly underrated is the brilliant character of Madame Morrible (Liza Sadovy) and yet this was, again, a great role perfectly represented.
I cannot recommend Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre highly enough. If you like musicals of any kind, you will like this show; you must go and see it! Simply put, it has a little bit of each and every thing that makes musical theatre wonderful. Do not miss this production, and do not miss this cast!
Please note: Opinions expressed on the londontheatredirect.com blog are those of the relevant contributors, not of London Theatre Direct Ltd, its owners or staff. London Theatre Direct Ltd is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by contributors.