My sister and I haven’t had a girls’ night out since our children appeared on the scene 5 years ago. Recently, with now 4 children between us, we’ve been discussing what we could do to address this situation so when the Apollo Victoria offered tickets to Wicked we nearly bit off their hand.
Both proud musical geeks, from a very early age we absolutely loved visiting the West End. I vividly remember standing at the stage entrance to the Palladium waiting for Jason Donovan to leave after watching Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat aged 9, and my poor parents regularly had to endure my sister and my musical extravaganzas (some self-written 😱) on rainy afternoons.
Nevertheless, in spite of hearing great things and both knowing the Gravity song from Glee, neither of us had seen Wicked nor knew much about the story.
In a nutshell, it’s a retelling of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West, a monicker which, we discover, is hugely unfair and more based upon the colour of her skin than anything about her character. The story explores Elphaba’s (the Wicked Witch) unhappy childhood as an outcast and her unlikely relationship with the uber-popular Glinda, the Good Witch.
It’s a wonderful night out and a great story not least because it carries with it a set of very good life lessons for any child or preteen: don’t judge a book by its cover; celebrate your differences and the importance of female friendship being just some of the take-homes! We saw the fabulous Laura Pick as Elphaba, who had such a beautiful expressive voice, and Helen Woolf as Glinda who played the spoilt brat with aplomb.
The score includes some really fabulous songs including the aforementioned Defying Gravity which, I have to say, is my favourite. Popular is also brilliant and the line ‘Loathing un-a-dul-ter-a-ted Loathing’ from What is this feeling? has swept through my mind a fair amount over the last week (no comment). It’s very clear why the play has been on in the West End for 14 years and why it can claim to have been seen by nearly 60 million people in over 130 cities.
The musical continues an open-ended run at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre where tickets are currently on sale to Saturday 28 November 2020.