Navigating Your Way Through… OZ

Wicked – July 22nd, 7:30 PM, Apollo Victoria Theatre

Even after seeing it five times, seeing it a sixth time, Wicked did not disappoint. The show, as a piece of literature simply fascinates me. The ballad, the way it ties back from the end to the beginning, employs elements and alludes to The Wizard of Oz throughout and uses witty, sharp and poignant dialogue forces me to relive the show, as if it is the first time spectating.

It was a rather emotional night in Oz, as 21 cast members were leaving. Many of the cast members were in tears at the end of the show, after the bows and during the speeches (which lasted for a good 15 minutes). From the commencement of the performance, as the curtain began to rise, the audience were on their feet, clapping away and cheering — throughout the entire performance. The ensemble were as strong as ever before. Suzie Mathers (Glinda), who has been a part of 8 Wicked companies , concluding her long journey with the show on Saturday. Her presence from the very start, added a new dimension to the character which I had not originally witnessed prior to this. Her ability to win the audience over with her comic timing was superb, and her contrast between act one and act two was clearly noted — her character maturity and development, psychologically, was very unique. I don’t think I have ever seen a Glinda who truly understood the significance of the opening number No One Mourns the Wicked, and the Final — yet Mather’s successfully tended to express full emotion and comprehension, demonstrating that she was confident with the meaning behind the song, singing it as if it were about herself.

Willemijn Verkaik, Elphaba, who has played the role over 2000 times, began her journey in Germany in 2007, and moved on from Stuttgart to Oberhausen in 2010, continuing to her home country, Holland in 2011, leaping onto Broadway in 2013, and finally embarking on the West End initially in November 2013, which was cut short due to health reasons, and she concluded her first run in July 2014. Luckily, as part of the second 10th Anniversary cast, she assumed the role of the green girl for one last time — from January throughout July 2017. She did not hold back , and gave a performance of a lifetime.

The ensemble were strong as always, and so were the supporting cast. Sue Kelvin as Morrible was deliciously evil, and Mark Curry was a comedic Wizard. Typically the roles of The Wizard, Boq, Nessarose and Morrible are oftentimes forgotten about as they tend to hold less presence on stage in comparison to the two leading ladies, however – this time, each individual managed to connect with the audience in a different way, something I have yet not seen previously.

Many people ask me why I enjoy seeing the show, and the truth is, it is not because of what people might think. In interviews that I have watched, cast members from the show are often asked why they think people come back to watch the show again and again. The typical answer they give is due to the friendship between the two girls, the story, the bond, the music and costumes etc. That is true, however, my reasoning is slightly different. I find the wording immensely sophisticated , especially in the opening and closing number. The use of rhetoric and the essential question brought up at first ‘Are people born Wicked or do they have wickedness thrust upon them” (Act One, Scene One) is probably why I enjoy the show so much. The writers successfully convey that question throughout the entire show. I am not disagreeing with anyone who believes the show is about the dynamic between the two leading ladies, but I think the story line is ultimately used as a device to convey a much larger meaning, which I am sure many people are oblivious towards. This idea is just as significant now (if not more) than when the show was originally written in 2003. Wicked ultimately remains one of my favorite musicals, and this cast (and evening in particular) was very special.

Tickets are not cheap for this show, so I would recommend sitting on the side of the stalls, starting from row H, which is further back, so you can appreciate all the sets, costumes and lighting, without being too restricted. I sat in row N, on the side, and paid 52GBP, which I am sure isn’t the cheapest price.


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