Culture

Review: Wicked the Musical’s 10th Anniversary in London

“Wicked” as a story itself is essentially one of the most successful fanfictions ever written. Based off the 1995 story “The Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West”, is a novel written by Gregory Maguire and it tells the untold story of the witches of Oz: Glinda the Good and Elphaba the Wicked Witch. The story dives to the teenage years of the two main witches, as well as those who will become Dorothy’s companions: The Tinman, The Scarecrow and The Cowardly Lion. The lead male in the show: Fiyero, is unheard of in “The Wizard of Oz”, but in this interpretation plays the protagonist love interest. The show also cleverly entwines both the unknown past and the known present story of The Wizard of Oz, as Dorothy gets introduced in Act 2.

Even if you don’t know or haven’t heard of Wicked the Musical, you will undoubtedly recognise it; with its emerald green signature colour and iconic songs such as “Defying Gravity” “Dancing Through Life” and “Popular”, this show stands out both on Broadway and in London’s West End.

Wicked the Musical was adapted by Stephen Schwartz (lyricist) and Winnie Holzman (book) and on 27th September 2016, celebrated its 10th anniversary in London, after opening on the same date in 2006. Staying in The Apollo Victoria Theatre in London for the whole ten years; the area was lit up for the celebration. An emerald green carpet lined the floor for both theatre stars and audience members alike to walk on. Among the stars to appear were former actresses to have played Elphaba such as Kerry Ellis, Louise Dearmon, Willemijn Verkaik and Emma Hatton. Former Wicked UK tour members also showed a face, as did previous actors to have played Glinda the Good and Fiyero.

Pictured: Kerry Ellis
Pictured: Kerry Ellis
Pictured: Ben Freeman and Gina Beck
Pictured: Ben Freeman and Gina Beck

The cast for Wicked’s 10th Birthday has also been said to be quite spectacular. Rachel Tucker returned to the role of Elphaba after initially playing the character in London from 2010 to 2012. Tucker took up the role on Broadway from 2015-2016 before announcing her return to London for the anniversary. Tucker has won the 2011 WhatsOnStage award for Best Takeover for a Role as well as the WestEndFrame award in 2012 for Best Performance of a Song in a Musical, both for her performance as Elphaba.

Tucker was joined by theatre stars Suzie Mathers as Glinda the Good and Oliver Savile as Fiyero. Mathers has played the role of Glinda since 2012 touring the globe, with locations including Singapore and South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, whilst Savile has played the role for just a year in London following leading roles in both “Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Miserables”.
The remaining lead cast included Anita Dobson (Madame Morrible), Mark Curry (The Wizard), Martin Ball (Doctor Dillamond), Katie Rowley-Jones (Nessarose), Idriss Kargbo (Boq), Alice Fearn (Elphaba Standby) and Carina Gillespie (Glinda Standby).

The whole performance had the audience applauding every time a new cast member appeared on stage and the cheers after some songs seemed to go on forever, a fan tells me. Following the normal performance, the special 10th anniversary performance had the ensemble seated on the side of the stage while the leads called the names of past cast members, erupting the audience into applause. The last to arrive was none other than Stephen Schwartz himself (composer), followed by his own speech. The evening closed with the releasing of hundreds of green balloons and confetti, making it an incredibly special event. The celebratory show received an enormous response from social media and fans especially lined the stage door afterwards to meet and congratulate their theatre heroes.

The show is one of the most vibrant on the West End and is one of London’s few shows to have reached this milestone, following Les Miserables (it its 30th year), Phantom of the Opera (celebrating its 30th birthday this year), The Lion King (celebrating its 17th birthday in October) and Mamma Mia! (in its 17th year). It features some of the most colourful sets and costumes you will ever see, and is a family fun show that will leave everyone touched by its magic and wonder. “Wicked” is currently booking until 4th November 2017 and is set for its own film in 2019.

By Sophie Garrod

 

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