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 because they are not the lead performer 100% of the tme. Whether they are a standby, understudy or alternate, they all deserve to receive recognition for the job they do. Because so few media outlets will review anyone but the main lead performer, anytime I see someone else in a role, I try to write about it and last night I went to see Laura Pick take on the mammoth role of the green witch Elphaba in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.
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.
Current Elphaba, Alice Fearn (who started out as the standby for the role but took it on full time in September 2017), won the Wilma Award for Best Understudy at the 2017 West End Wilma Awards and I have kept it no secret, telling people she is the best actor of the role I have ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot of them). So Laura Pick has some seriously large shoes to fill as Alice’s standby, who is backstage and ready to go on at any time.
Laura was a pretty incredible Elphaba. I immediately warmed to her character and she acted the role well. What stood out was her incredible vocal ability. She sang the shit out of all of the big three songs in the show (The Wizard and I, Defying Gravity and No Good Deed) adding in just a touch of her own personal style to make it different whilst keeping to the originality of the songs. Her voice blended very well with current Glinda, Sophie Evans (who five years ago played the role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium) and gave a leading lady performance. My friend (who I took to see the show for the first time) was amazed that she wasn’t the performer who played the role every night and so all credit to Laura for doing an outstanding job.
Laura Pick is playing the role of Elphaba until tomorrow. Other dates Alice is on holiday and Laura should be performing are Thursday 8 – Wednesday 14 March and Thursday 17 – Saturday 19 May 2018 but keep your eyes on the Wicked website for details.