Gregory Maguire’s acclaimed 1995 novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, is the inspiration for this musical which is loved by many. Oddly, I knew very little about this show before I was sitting in the audience. For once I wanted to see something fresh without preparation so the only number I was aware of was Defying Gravity, which I think I first heard on Glee.
Although it has lots of different characters the musical itself is basically a two hander between two female leads Glinda and Elphaba who start off as enemies but then grow to see the world from the other’s perspective after being forced to share a room at college. The nature of how we create evil by the way we treat those around us is explored and the heroes we choose as “shining examples” may be quite flawed afterall.
The performance we saw had Elphaba played exceptionally well by Louise Dearman, who had been Glinda in earlier runs. Glinda was played by Gina Beck who was thoroughly believable in the part. Some of the duets sounded like musical battles with trills and harmonies which must have been difficult to pull off. The costumes are amazing and the special effects work well. I got quite excited when I saw a major part could be played by a wheelchair user if one scene was amended but it is not yet open for school productions so it’s all academic at the moment.
It is performed at the Apollo Victoria Theatre which is perfect because the stalls are on a slight dip towards the stage and the seats seem to be off-centred so that no matter where you sit, and we were near the back, you get a good view of all the action. Another plus about seeing a show in a theatre specially set up for along run is that the staging is magnificent. Our seats were expensive at just over £90 for two third class seats and when it goes on tour in 2013 it may well be cheaper. I would recommend the show as it is something magical for children of all ages.