WICKED The Musical @Apollo Victoria Theatre

Often seen as quite trivial compared to more sober dramatic productions…

To me, musicals are the height of performance: performers will sing, dance and act for up to 8 shows per week. It is an endurance test as much as it is a spectacle.

Walking into the theatre, I was immediately enveloped into the world of WICKED – the entrances and foyer were lit up in the green that has become synonymous with WICKED, and a replica of Elphaba’s costume is displayed on the stairs for audience members to look at.

Production shot of Gary Wilmot as The Wizard of Oz.

Inspired by the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West which was written by Gregory Maguire whilst living in London, it is fitting that the musical has found its home on the West End, now celebrating its 16th year on the stage.  WICKED is the ultimate villain origin story and focuses on the two witches, Glinda the Good and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West and particularly how they both received these monikers. Through reimagining the witches’ origins, the musical explores how women are often pitted against each other as well as deconstructing the societal binary that is set between good and bad. As the Wonderful Wizard of Oz jauntily puts it in the musical, ‘It’s all in which label//Is able to persist.

A standout was definitely Gary Wilmot’s entrance as the Wizard – a huge golden mask was brought out which he spoke through with such a booming voice that I almost jumped out of my seat! Wilmot did an excellent job of capturing the Wizard’s bashful silliness as well as the hint of menace behind his façade. Ryan Reid was the composite Fiyero – suave, with a gentle arrogance that reminded me of American high school football players in the shows that I used to watch when I was younger.

Production shot of Nicholas McLean as Boq.

Helen Woolf who played Glinda was the understudy in the first tour and as a result has a strong fluency in the role, playing into each and every blonde stereotype you could imagine.  The role of Elphaba made famous by Frozen’s Idina Menzel (soon to be played by Cynthia Erivo in the film adaptation), has a lot to live up to specifically as it has such big songs. Lucie Jones certainly proved up to the task and her versions of the songs didn’t feel like karaoke versions I was impressed that she was able to make them her own. Her ‘No Good Deed’ was particularly amazing. The ensemble were also excellent singers and remarkable dancers which we saw in group scenes like ‘One Short Day’, ‘Wonderful Wizard’.

Eugene Lee’s set design and costuming were incredible and used the entirety of the Apollo Victoria from Glinda’s arrival in a floating bubble in an opulent blue dress (designed by Susan Hilferty) to the flying monkeys and dragons on top of the stage. I found particularly impressive Boq’s dress change within a wheelchair whilst on stage!

Production Shot of Ryan Reid as Fiyero.

The world of musical theatre is notoriously not so diverse – with Ryan Reid’s casting as Fiyero this is the third time a Black actor has played a principal character since Alexia Khadime played Elphaba in 2008. Following the casting of the first Black Glinda in the US as well as Amara Okereke’s casting as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Courtney Bowman in Legally Blonde in the UK, I am deciding to stay optimistic about the future of castings in musicals, hopeful that the diversity will continue.

WICKED was a treat for all of the senses and as Dorothy mused at the end of the Wizard of Oz, I did wonder if it was all a dream!


Book Tickets for WICKED here.

SUMMARY

With characters most famously known from Judy Garland’s ‘Wizard of Oz’, WICKED the Musical is the ultimate villain origin story.

OUT OF 100

Script
90 %
Story
90 %
Acting
85 %
Characters
85 %
Directing
80 %
Costume
85 %
Soundtrack
90 %
Production Design
80 %
For the Culture
35 %
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