REVIEW: WICKED (Apollo Victoria Theatre) ★★★★★
“According to the Time Dragon Clock, The Melting occurred at the thirteenth hour…” and in honour of the thirteenth year of Wicked in the West End at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, the show celebrated with a gala night this week. The great and the good were invited to rejoicify in style and there was a most ozmopolitan turn out on the emerald carpet. Mama Von Dienstag and I mingled with a variety of celebs ranging from Angela Rippon and Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood, to Dr Alex from Love Island and some of his more recent alumni, all in their most wonderful attire.
The theatre looked fantastic as ever; as Wicked’s London home it’s a viridiphile’s dream, decked out in green from top to bottom, the carpets to the curtains to the seats to the signs are all viridescent. The Art Deco interior makes extensive use of concealed lighting, decorated with scallop shells and columns, which have her turned green and it almost glows like the smaragdine city itself. Grade II listed, the theatre opened in 1930 and has hosted a number of musicals over the years, including the Sound of Music and Starlight Express, before Wicked arrived back in 2006.
As the audience takes their seats, a map of Oz and its surrounding regions is shown on the safety curtain, with the city shimmering in the centre. The stage is designed as the Time Dragon clock with the eponymous dragon overseeing proceedings from above and its cogs framing the edges. This is the height of west end production and it shows no signs of fading after a baker’s dozen years in situ.
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.
The show itself is thrillifying, with a new cast in place since July this year – the whole cast are wonderful. Nikki Bentley’s Elphaba hits all the right notes for me, she looks right as the wicked witch of the west and sounds great. There is tangible chemistry between her and both Helen Woolf’s Glinda and Fiyero, played by the very dashing Alistair Brammer. Much of this cast have earned their stripes as standbys and in the touring production and it pays off as every member feels well cast and there’s no one that I’d change. Finally, the Great Oz himself deserves a mention as well – Andy Hockley brings out the good and evil in the affable wizard and my Mum called him out as her favourite – praise indeed!
By the time the show came to a close and the audience stood to cheer the cast with celebratory balloons and ticker tape raining down to mark the auspicious anniversary, we were exhilarated and emotions were running high. Thirteen may be unlucky for some, but certainly not for this show. In a city of wonderful theatre and fabulocious musicals, this really is the most wonderful of them all.
Reviewed by Ana von Dienstag
Photo: Matt Crockett
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