Any Wicked fan will tell you that there are two things they have on their bucket list to tick off when it comes to seeing the show multiple times. Fans always hope for something different to happen from the norm, for someone to forget a line or a prop to malfunction or be forgotten. But the two main things everyone dreams of seeing are a) a no-fly show (where Elphaba doesn’t defy gravity at the end of act one due to a technical issue) and b) a witch-switch (where the lead performer is switched with the standby performer mid performance).
Last night, at the London production of Wicked, Elphaba Alice Fearn was replaced by her standby cover Laura Pick after the song Popular in which Elphaba runs off stage and then reappears a minute later for the next scene.
Today, Alice has tweeted “Sadly my throat is a raging ball of flames. Once this infection passes I shall be back with gusto @WickedUK 😷 thanks for get well messages ❤”
Audience reports say that the change was seamlessly executed and there had been no warning sign that Alice might be sick and unable to perform the entire show. She had performed the first big song of the show The Wizard And I without any sign of sickness, showing true professionalism.
Understudies and standby performers don’t get the credit they deserve in the West End. Imagine sitting in your dressing room, feet up, watching Eastenders when you receive a call saying you need to be painted green and dressed in ten minutes to go and belt out some of the toughest songs in Musical Theatre. These kind of things deserve the credit they are due. So get well Alice and well done Laura!
There have been many notable mishaps in Wicked the Musical around the world over the years. The original Elphaba, Idina Menzel falling through and trap door that was left open and ending up in hospital and Kerry Ellis famously screaming for help when the lift that is supposed to make her defy gravity and fly up into the air started pulling her down into the stage rather than up are just two of the most notable.
Photos: Matt Crockett