Wicked at the Apollo VictoriaCultureTheatre
Celebrating its 3,000th show last month, Wicked has been playing at the Apollo Victoria for six years, seven days a week – with two extra matinee shows on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. For this reason the show has an annual change-up of leading actors and as of 18th November a whole new cast has been introduced alongside previously announced Willemijn Verkaik, now playing the star role of Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West.
The production bears the somewhat dubiously unassuming title of 16th longest-running West End musical of all time, and has been seen by over five million people since its opening in 2006. The play, subtitled The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz, follows the unlikely friendship between Elphaba and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, before and after the arrival of Dorothy.
The show is all about the leading ladies, excepting an unfortunate Dorothy who has a very limited amount of stage time, meaning the male lead Fiyero, played by Jeremy Taylor, pales in comparison to the performances shown by Elphaba and Glinda (Savannah Stevenson). Occasionally this focus is overplayed, meaning the myriad of solo numbers, although sung to perfection, serve only to highlight the patchiness of both the score and the weak underlying narrative. Although it is clear the musical looks to reflect the importance of female friendship over anything else, there is a moralistic tone that seems to be solely addressing teenage girls, rather than an entire audience.
There is much to be said of the production values and the quality of the cast however, and undoubtedly audience members will feel the extent of their pricey West End tickets has been used to create a spectacular stage and to pay for vocalists who shine within it. The downside to this being that those who go to see Wicked shouldn’t be thinking about how wisely their money is spent, but rather immersed in the action and lost in the world of Oz, which is exactly what is not achieved.
There’s no denying some will be astounded by this production and its no-expense-spared attitude to costumes, set design and theatre in general, but there will also be those who see it as the money-making, soulless machine that it is, leaving audiences unfilled yet not entirely sure why.
Wicked is on at the Apollo Victoria where booking has been extended until 1st November 2014, for further information or to book visit here.