What is this feeling, so sudden and new? I felt the moment I laid eyes on you.
It was autumn of 2006 when I fell in love with Wicked. I studied Musical Theatre at college and within the first month we had to brave a solo performance. Struggling for ideas, as I didn’t have a huge knowledge of shows at that point, a fellow class mate suggested ‘Popular’ from Wicked. ‘Wicked?’ I asked. She lent me her CD and I’m pretty sure I never gave it back. Jokes. I did, with a lot of reluctance.
It strongly resonated with me because I grew up watching the Wizard of Oz with my mum and having a story centered around two fiercely fabulous female leads was so refreshing. I’m also a pop girl, so the modern soundtrack was unforgettable.
I’ve actually seen the show twice before already. My partner whisked me off to London in 2010 with a treat to see Wicked, earning SERIOUS boyfriend points. I also purchased tickets the last time it flew into Manchester, front row this time as I wasn’t a broke student, and I was blown away… get it? So I am seriously fan girling about its return.
You might be surprised to find I’ve never reviewed the show and I think that’s because of the pressure to translate my overwhelming feelings into words, but I will give it my best try third time around.
Dear Old Shiz
Wicked is the story in parallel with the Wizard of Oz. Is Glinda so good? Is the Wicked Witch of the West so… wicked? Everyone has a past and these two witches are no different.
Back at Shiz University, the most popular girl in school, GAH-linda, is assigned the roomie of her nightmares, green faced odd-ball Elphaba. I’m sure we can all relate to one of them already. As with every University experience, they grow and change and face difficult circumstances from love loss to moral revelations. But ultimately, this story gives context and removes the focus from the floating bubble and black hat to reveal these women and their relationship in a new light.
Welcome to Oz
One of the best things about Wicked is the world it creates before your very eyes. From the detailed map of the realms to the angular, eccentric costuming, bizarre choreography and mechanical cogs and clocks design, you are very much welcomed into Oz.
The much adored bright lights of the Emerald City make a gorgeously green entry that wows and Wizard of Oz fans will appreciate all of the references to the film. Stephen Schwartz’s score is sublime and brings the whole narrative to life. His songs capture the cheery youthfulness without shying away from the dark and powerful. They’re definitely addictive as my 12 year’s worth of listening proves!
All of this combines to mix both story lines into the most perfectly OZian potion.
Witch is Witch
Amy Ross is an utterly sensational Elphaba. We all know that particular role needs a voice and a half, and wow does she have some lungs! ‘Defying Gravity’ is of course a stand out but ‘Wizard and I’, and ‘No Good Deed’ deserve just as much attention. Amy has an earthy growl to her voice that I was living for and her tomboy angsty attitude is on point.
Helen Woolf is an angelic, operatic Glinda who perfectly portrays a spoilt and privileged witch. She is ditzy, but not too ditzy that you think she is brainless. That’s reserved for the scarecrow only. She brings most of the comedy, especially in ‘Popular’ as she prances and dances (and donna and blitzon) across the stage.
Their friendship is petty, moody, silly, serious and basically every emotion you can expect of two strong independent ladies. Together they are spellbinding and their transformation into the wise women they become is beautiful to watch.
Wicked is a bewitching Musical that is guaranteed to give you goosebumps. Buy your ticket to the wonderful world of Oz for an uplifting, joyous and magical night to remember.
You can buy tickets to see Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London. Tickets from £22. (AD)
Wicked played in Manchester until Saturday 5th January 2019. https://www.wickedthemusical.co.uk/uk-tour/tour-dates
Photo credit: Matt Crockett