2017 is the year that I am trying to bring understudies to the forefront of theatre. If I can get to see a show when an understudy is performing, then I will write about it because it can be a thankless task, for a performer to take on a leading role in a theatre show, only for it to pass by unnoticed by press and media outlets.
This week, whilst Willemijn Verkaik is on holiday, the role of Elphaba in Wicked is being played by Alice Fearn and so I went along to check her out. Alice gives a fresh, youthful portrayal of Elphaba and breathes a vulnerability in to the character that I have never seen before. I’ve seen many people play the role of Elphaba over the years and I can honestly say I have never seen the role performed better than by Alice Fearn.
It helps that she’s young. With the 10th anniversary having just taken place, Wicked has seen some of London’s most loved Elphaba’s return to the show to reprise the iconic role. Kerry Ellis, Rachel Tucker and currently Willemijn Verkaik are all great in their own right but the character has been missing a youthful approach for a while and Alice Fearn brings the character back to where she belongs.
If you’re one of the few who hasn’t seen this spellbinding stage show, it is the back story to the classic Wizard of Oz. We find out who the Witches really were growing up and how they came to be the people we see in the film. We find out who the cowardly lion, tin man and scarecrow really were and find out there is more to the story than we originally thought. Throw in a love triangle, some great songs and some of the most colourful costumes you will see on stage and that pretty much sums it up.
Wicked is a wonderful show that really does seem to get better every time. No matter who is performing, understudy or main performer, they are all equally capable of doing the job in hand. Do see Alice Fearn if you get the chance as she is incredible. You can also see Alice perform a solo cabaret show Live At Zedel on 14 May 2017.