Wicked at London's Victoria Apollo Theatre

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This week I was offered two theatre tickets in exchange for a review. 'Would you like to see Wicked tomorrow night?' they asked. I'm sorry - what? I have to write a review for you and I get two tickets to go and see the best rated musical currently showing in London's oh-so famous West End? A review that I would undoubtedly write unprompted anyway? Are you kidding? YES, PLEASE!

So, yes, whilst this is not a sponsored post, the tickets were certainly gifted for a review published elsewhere.

We rushed off after work to the beautiful Victoria Apollo Theatre where we picked up our tickets and found our seats armed with a slushie (this is what we back home call a 'slush puppy'), beers (G) and chocolatey snacks (disappointingly, there weren't any hot snacks so we settled for Crunchie Nibbles and Pringles). The stage was spectacular and really raised my expectations for the quality of the production. After a quick internet search, I found an image to share with you:

Look! A dragon! And gears, cogs, and a sparkling Emerald City. Surprisingly, the stage crew manipulate the dragon which sways, roars and flashes with very bright lights.

My favourite aspect of the production was the sheer scale of the whole enterprise. Every stage drop was carefully thought out, the props were magnificent, the costumes were sparkling and apt, and the story was a considerable improvement on the novel it is based upon.

It tells the story of The Wizard of Oz from the other side of the coin; Elphaba, the 'Wicked Witch of the West' and Glinda the Good are best friends in school (after a rocky start) and they soon discover that the Wizard and his cronies are plotting to overthrow a minority group within Oz. The Wizard plots against Elphaba, frames her as 'wicked' and each element of the story we all know is given an unusual twist. It all fits together rather well, although the storyline was certainly secondary to the performance and stage.

Here's a quick look at the costumes for the Ozzians in the Emerald City. This photograph (from the official site) certainly doesn't do them all justice! They are spectacularly green with coordinated hats, shoes and glittering accessories.

Glinda the Good wore a different dress in every scene, travelled through the story in a bubble, and kicked her pretty pink heels up at any given moment as she expressed how wonderful she was.

Elphaba was cast beautifully, her outfits were definitely of the Wicked Witch variety, and she sang really very well. I was amazed that her 'green' stayed on for the whole performance, and I often wondered whether she was touched up with green dust whenever she stepped off stage.

On the whole, the performance was beautiful although I felt it was rather long - I distinctly remember wondering whether there was going to be an interval, or whether they had decided to skip it and get through the rest of the performance without a break. About ten minutes after that thought, they suddenly left the stage and the lights went on - - interval, followed by another thirty minutes of performance.

I'd recommend this production to anybody who wants to experience the glorious West End with an established performance that's been running in the same theatre for five years - and it shows! 

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