Ever since I was a little girl I have loved going to the theatre, seeing musicals and live bands – what’s not to love about immersing yourself in another world for a few hours and secretly wishing you were up there being an absolute superstar despite the fact you cannot sing, act or dance. Just me??
So, when I was lucky enough to be given two tickets to see the much hyped musical “Wicked” at the Birmingham Hippodrome last week I was very excited and couldn’t wait to channel my inner witch. (Mostly good, occasionally bad, you?)
The story is based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel of the same name and tells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch. Weaving the audience through the times before, during and after the story of the Wizard of Oz that we all know and love, “Wicked” begs the audience to question how wicked exactly was that witch of the west?
The sell out UK tour, which has just completed its run in Birmingham and is now heading for cities across the UK and Ireland, follows on from its huge success in the West End and Broadway. As a fan of the soundtrack after first hearing it around 14 years ago, with the original cast members of Idina Menzel as Elphaba and Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, it’s a show I have wanted to see for a really long time. So yes, it has taken me a wee while to finally get to see it but I’m very glad to say it most definitely didn’t disappoint!
Amy Ross, who plays Elphaba and Helen Woolf as Glinda had a lot to live up to as far as the vocal range of the original stars were concerned but I needn’t have worried. Every fan favourite – the hair raising “Defying Gravity” at the end of Act 1 for instance, was every bit as awe inspiring and impressive as I’d hoped and, judging by the reactions of the audience members around me, I think everyone felt the same. Another personal favourite for me was the gorgeous “As Long As You’re Mine” performed by Ross and love interest Fiyero, played by former Eastenders star Aaron Sidwell.
I’m one of those people who annoy myself slightly when watching a show as I often find myself getting lost in the special effects and incredible costumes and I really was like a child in a sweet shop at this performance. From how the Wizard himself is portrayed to spotting the little nods towards the original Wizard of Oz such as the yellow brick road, the red shoes and the characters of the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion, it all comes together in ways you don’t always expect. From exploring Elphaba and Glinda’s friendship from their years at the awesomely named Shiz University together, to allowing us to see just why the Tin Man lost his heart and who exactly is the Wizard of Oz, it delves into parts of the story that made me think “Ohhhhhhh!” and have little lightbulb moments many times during the performance.
The costumes are incredible, (not least my constant thoughts throughout on just how does Amy Ross, as Elphaba, cope with that green body paint??) It really is a fantastic sight to see the ensemble in the Emerald City in all their amazing costumes, as well as how Elphaba transforms from dowdy schoolgirl to the wicked witch of the west.
“Wicked” is a fantastic few hours of twists, turns and of course, the odd tornado. It was very easy to see how this has been a sell out show throughout its run in Birmingham and truly deserves to be during the rest of the tour. If you’re off to see it, you will not be disappointed and, if you’re anything like me, you will be listening to the soundtrack for a little too long over the following few days!