Wicked is one of London’s most famous West End theatre shows. And after seeing it myself, I can confirm that reputation is wholly justified…
The Wizard of Oz is one of life’s more iconic musical movies. So it’s no surprise that theatreland has given the Wiz a spin, based on the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by Gregory Maguire. Wicked premiered in San Francisco in 2003, and has been sitting pretty in London’s West End since 2006.
Whether you’re a big time musical nerd or have a more occasional attitude to the London theatre scene, check out six reasons why Wicked is a musical you just HAVE to see!
It sheds a whole new perspective on a famous story
As you might have guessed, Wicked is a side-story to the Wizard of Oz, not a musical about 90s garage bangers. Although that, I’d probably also watch. The events of Wicked run up to where the Wizard of Oz begins, with Dorothy’s house landing on the Wicked Witch of the East.
But the final scenes also run concurrently with D & T’s adventures along the Yellow Brick Road, showing a whole different side to Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. It’s also really interesting to get an insight into the ‘origin stories’ of the most prominent characters and how they became who they are in the original Wizard of Oz.
The songs are super memorable
Despite having never seen the show, I actually knew a fair few of the songs almost word-for-word. Defying Gravity is ICONIC and so much more amazing in the show than when Glee covered it (hello, yes, former guilty pleasure). The group numbers are so much fun, and the harmonies and different melodies working together are all just gorgeous and powerful and wonderful!
The staging is incredible
For a start, there’s a bloody GIANT DRAGON at the top of the stage. It moves and everything.
Unlike some other shows I’ve seen, the staging goes beyond the stage itself, drawing audiences into the performance. For the big numbers, flashing lights all around the front of the auditorium make for an impressive spectacle. There aren’t as many special effects as you’d expect, but these are done with class and style, using suggestion rather than outright ‘magic’ on stage. The set itself proves versatile and easily builds a picture of the locations using a relatively sparing amount of props.
It features loads of talented performers
The main characters of Elphaba and Glinda are so well sung and acted, they can’t help but draw your attention. The whole cast are impressively versatile, with some of the best all-round ensemble talent I’ve seen on stage.
The group numbers are spectacular
As well as amazing solos, the larger ensemble songs are where Wicked really shines. You’re never short of somewhere to look, be it at the mesmerising routines centre stage, or the side-stage performances that draw the eye.
The Apollo Victoria is an awesome venue
I actually really like the Apollo Victoria, and it’s definitely one of the best London theatres I’ve been to. The stalls seats we had were comfy, with some decent legroom and a great view of the stage.
They’ve also tied in the venue theming with the musical – emerald back-lit signage, and even the carpets are a shade of green (which might be accidental, but it works).
Have you seen Wicked in the West End (or elsewhere)? What was your fave part?
*We were given complimentary tickets to attend the performance. All opinions (and excessive gushing) honest as ever!