Wicked the Musical is one of those West End shows that I’ve been hearing people rave about for years. The kind of show that some have described as ‘life changing’ and fans go back to see again and again.
Recently I had a chance to find out why at a performance of Wicked at Apollo Victoria Theatre, now in its 9th year.
The tale takes us on a topsy turvy journey beyond the yellow brick road, where neither the Wizard, Emerald City nor the Wicked Witch of the West are quite what they seem.
Elphaba, born green, starts life as an outcast despite her noble parentage (her dad’s the governor). At school, she meets icky sweet Glinda (aka Galinda) and they wind up as roommates who can’t stand the sight of each other.
But they’re drawn together by magic: Glinda’s ambition and Elphaba’s natural talent. And after an act of kindness from Elphaba (and cruelty on her own part) tweaks Galinda’s conscience, hatred transforms into a sisterly bond.
Add a devil-may-care Prince, a love triangle and a subplot about liberating animals from human subjugation, and the story gets twistier by the minute.
After she dares to challenge the Wizard, he turns the whole city against Elphaba and she has to use her powers to transform her fate – and that of Oz forever.
Wicked the Musical is absolutely gripping with well-drawn characters, played to perfection especially by lead actresses Savannah Stevenson as Glinda and Emma Hatton as Elphaba.
The musical numbers are so packed with narrative and emotion that I wanted to rush out, buy the soundtrack and learn all the songs by heart. At the End of Act One showstopper, when Elphaba fully comes into her magic, every last nerve ending in my body was giving its own standing ovation.
With its emphasis on defying expectations, accepting yourself and believing in the sheer force of female friendship, Wicked the Musical is like a more grown-up precursor to Disney’s Frozen. I get why so many people, women especially, fall under its spell. And yes, I’m already planning to go and see it again!
Ezra (age 9)
‘It was a really good show. Some of it was funny, some of it was action and a lot of it was singing. My favourite character was probably Elphaba, especially because of when she was flying. I couldn’t see what was holding her up! I enjoyed it but it’s probably good we didn’t bring Jed because the singing was very loud. And the dragon that moves its head around and has red eyes would scare him.’
Wicked the Musical at Apollo Victoria Theatre, Wilton Rd, SW1V 1LG (Victoria tube). Recommended for ages 7+. 7.30pm (Mon-Sat) & 2.30pm matinees (Wed & Sat); from £17.25 (ongoing)