We're ending our 3rd day in London which means we're halfway done with our trip :(. But we're having a great time. I plan to do a Toast-like travelogue, but until then, I want to put up a quick review of Wicked while it's fresh in my mind.
I had heard the Broadway cast recording of this show, so going in I knew some of what to expect. I thought I would enjoy it, but I wasn't sure how much, as the music was pretty good, but hadn't grabbed me like say, LesMis did when I first heard it.
We got to the theatre which is right outside Victoria station in downtown London. I love the giant signs they put up for these shows. It really builds up the atmosphere, not to mention the throngs of people everywhere. London is a bustling place, especially at night.
The staging was great, as you would expect from a London or a Broadway show. The dragon was a nice, if unnecessary touch, and the stairs along the sides let the characters move around nicely. The style with the cogs and gears seemed to fit right in. The crowning moment was just before intermission when Elphaba (the wicked witch) rises up above everyone and is surrounded by her dress, which has expanded to fill the entire stage behind everyone.
I knew some of the story going in from the cast recording, but not all. Unlike some of the sung-through musicals, you don't get everything from the songs alone. I thought the book for the musical was very well-done. For this musical to be successful, you really have to believe in the characters and come to care about them. I thought they did a good job outlining the two main characters Galinda (Glinda) and Elphaba, and showing at a realistic pace how they change after they meet each other. Likewise with Fiyero, who changes quite a bit after he's first introduced. Once Elphaba finished "The Wizard and I", which is early in the first act, I was completely captivated.
All of the cast were outstanding. I believe we did see the main performers, Helen Dallimore as Glinda and Kerry Ellis as Elphaba. Helen Dallimore did a great job with her part. Of course, I had heard Kristen Chenoweth from the OBC as Glinda, and she has a great, strong voice. Helen Dallimore's wasn't quite as strong, but she made me forget about Kristen Chenoweth anyway. Glinda's part isn't the easiest, I don't think, as she has to be both shallow and lovable at the same time. Kerry Ellis was spectacular. Her big songs "The Wizard and I", "Defying Gravity", and "No Good Deed" gave me chills. Songs that I had heard on the CD and kind of liked really knocked me over here. It reminds me why I love live theatre so much. The rest of the cast shone as well. The Wizard and Madame Morrible were both in great form musically and in their characterization.
To use the Toast movie scale, I would say I had expected a 7, and actually got a 9. The whole family really enjoyed it. And it's a good thing too, considering we spent over 100 pounds plus the tickets after all was said and done. But it was well worth it. I would do it again tomorrow if I could get Michelline to go along.