Based on Gregory Maguire’s novel of the same name, Wicked tells the cleverly put together untold story of the witches of Oz that we know and love from the tale of The Wizard of Oz. The show has been a major hit in London since 2006 at The Apollo Victoria Theatre and the production is so successful it is currently booking until April 25, 2015.
There is a real treat for visitors of the show at the moment with original London cast member Kerry Ellis making a return to the role of the green witch Elphaba. Gregory Maguire formulated the name “Elphaba” out of L. Frank Baum’s (the original creator of The Wizard of Oz) name, taking the phonetic pronunciation of his initials: hence, L.F.B became El-pha-ba.
We first meet Elphaba and Glinda (the Good) as students at dear old Shiz College; during act one and we learn about their pasts before discovering what really happened whilst Dorothy was following the yellow brick road during act two.
The two leads of Elphaba (Kerry Ellis) and Glinda (Savannah Stevenson) are both completely opposite in character but equally impressive to watch. Ellis is strong and slightly cynical as Elphaba, the girl who has fought all her life to be taken seriously and not be seen as a freak. Stevenson (Glinda) had impeccable comic timing and showed the whole range of emotions throughout the story, from the spoilt little rich girl that pouts and smiles at all the right moments to the mature public figure that realises just how much she has sacrificed for her fame.
Ellis and Stevenson also had absolutely faultless voices – the songs of Wicked are some of the most well-known in the West End today (thanks to Stephen Schwartz). Ellis and Stevenson both led from the front here, with incredible duets (‘What Is This Feeling’) and solo songs alike. Glinda (Stevenson) was funny and sassy in ‘Popular’ whilst Elphaba (Ellis) in ‘No Go Deed’ absolutely stole the show for me with a powerful and emotionally heart-breaking vocal.
Other performers such as Madame Morrible (Sue Kelvin) had a deep and commanding lower voice combined with a diva personality, she hammed up the role of Madame Morrible and gave a few giggles. The Wizard who is another central character to the well-known story was played by Martin Ellis and he showed emotion at the pivotal moment. Fiyero is the main romantic interest, usually played by Jeremy Taylor who was on vacation so we had the understudy of Justin Thomas who put on a great performance in the role and performed up to the top standard of everyone else.
No review of Wicked would be complete with mentioning the set and costumes – Eugene Lee and Susan Hilferty (respectively) transform the whole theatre into a magical world. The Emerald City is particularly striking – the set is a blaze of green sparkle that creates a dazzling effect and matches the costumes of the city’s residents to a tee.
To book tickets or for more information see online.