Well, who hasn’t got an opinion on ‘Wicked’? And more importantly, who hasn’t raved about it?
So we might have been up high enough to get a nosebleed, but our view was still pretty spectacular, and meant we could see the entire stage without too many head turns whenever the action changed place. The acoustics weren’t fantastic, but the principle actors made up for this in their pure ability (disincluding Fiyero’s slight slip on a high note in ‘Dancing Through Life’). This was particularly seen in Rachel Tucker’s (Elphaba) spectacular vocals in ‘Defying Gravity’, which essentially had me in tears because it was so brilliantly done. Tucker was definitely the strongest vocal performance in the show in my opinion, but the chemistry between her and Louise Dearman (Glinda) and Lewis Bradley (standing in for Lee Mead as Fiyero) made the show come alive.
The storyline itself, as my friend commented during the interval, would not be as spectacular without the right cast and musical numbers to make it sparkle. Indeed, who would be able to see past Glinda’s initial self-absorbed nature without ‘Popular’ showing her to want to bring out the best in people? And the reprise of ‘No One Mourns the Wicked’ at the end after we’ve seen Elpheba’s tragic story unfold ensures we realise the extent of the misunderstanding Madame Morrible (Julie Legrand) imposes upon the Oz-ians. Likewise, the stagecraft enabled the story to become more spectacular, particularly the beautiful Emerald City and the terrifying outer mask of the Wizard.
The most fascinating part of the story, undoubtedly, was the development of the origins for the characters from ‘The Wizard of Oz’, and I personally thought the Lion’s back-story was by far the cleverest invention, and the only one I didn’t see coming. The only thing that bothered me was that, in ‘The Wizard of Oz’, Elpheba sets the Scarecrow on fire – why on earth would she do that to the man she loved?
By far, the best songs for me were ‘What is this Feeling?’ and the infamous ‘Defying Gravity’, which allowed the female leads to combine their powerful voices to build upon the melody and produce an overwhelming emotional response. Tucker gave a slightly husky quality to the high notes in ‘Defying Gravity’ which contrasted immensely with the gentle tones she used in ‘The Wizard and I’, and later on in ‘As Long As You’re Mine’, showing both her range and vocal abilities at their finest.
The supporting cast, as in any production, were crucial in ensuring the performance was wholly wonderful, and Boq (George Ure) was especially notable in his heartfelt performance, and his anger at his metallic fate was critical in understanding why Elpheba continued to be misunderstood and why the situation was outside Glinda’s control.
Wicked was an entirely fabulous experience, and one I would definitely repeat. The cast were stunning, the sets and costumes were beautifully designed, and the venue meant that even the cheaper seats didn’t miss out on the action. I hope to have a wicked time again in the near future.