Director: Joe Mantello
Writer: Stephen Schwartz. Winnie Holzman
Based on: Gregory Maguire‘s novel, which is in turn based on L. Frank Baum‘s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz respectively the movie The Wizard of Oz
Cast: Louise Dearman, Gina Beck, Ben Freeman, Harriet Thorpe, Keith Bartlett, Katie Rowley Jones, Sam Lupton, Christopher Howell
[I saw the production in London.]
Wicked tells the story of how the Wicked Witch of the West became the Wicked Witch of the West. And it all started in school where Elphaba (Louise Dearman), whose green skin makes her a target for everyone, arrives as her sister’s Nessarose (Katie Rowley Jones) helper, to be discovered as a magical supertalent. Much to the chagrin of popular Glinda (Gina Beck) who dreamed of becoming a witch herself. But more is going on in Oz than it appears at first – and both Elphaba and Glinda are more involved than they initially thought.
I didn’t really know Wicked going into the show. A while ago I watched some of the clips of the Broadway version (mostly because of Kristin Chenoweth), so I knew some of the songs and I was familiar with the story. But seeing it put together like it should be is, of course, a rather different experience and one that really works beautifully. I spend most of the time crying and I loved it.
The music is great. Not only Defying Gravity and Popular – the songs that are probably best known from it – but pretty much every single song. I’ve been listening to it a lot since I came back and I think I know it by heart now.
And I do love those retellings when they’re well done. Not all of the plot fits perfectly, I thought, and the animals’ struggle is dropped pretty quickly, but it mostly works out just fine and none of the gaps were really detrimental to my enjoyment of the story. Oh, and the take on the characters! Elphaba is great of course, but there’s a special place in my heart for Glinda. She is a wonderfully complex character, but most of all she’s just really funny.
The London production we saw was great. Beautiful costumes, great stage design (only the dragon didn’t want to fit the entire thing that well) and a really wonderful cast. Only Adam Garcia as Fiyero didn’t seem quite as good as the rest of them. Maybe he was having an off night, maybe I saw a stand-in, I don’t know.
But either way I enjoyed every minute of the show, I had goosebumps, I cried, I laughed – what more could you possibly want from an evening at a show?