Monday, 11 November 2013

Wicked!

This review must have been written thousands of times by different people all over the world, and now having finally seen it I'm going to join the huge amount of people who have reviewed 'Wicked'. I don't even know how long I've wanted to see this musical for, but it's been years, and on Saturday night I finally saw it :D. If you haven't seen 'Wicked' yet seriously go book tickets now! It's just so ridiculously good, I can't even describe.
For some reason when my family go to see shows we somehow always miss the principle actors - we missed Alfie Boe by a day when we went to see Les Mis which I don't think I'll ever get over. But on Saturday we actually saw Louise Dearman as Elphaba, Gina Beck as Glinda and Ben Freeman as Fiyero. (If there ever was an excuse to fangirl I think this is one).
Since I'm the only one in my family who would actively choose to go and see musicals it can sometimes get a little awkward as I force my 20-year-old brother to sit through cheesy songs like 'Dancing
Louise Dearman as Elphaba
Through Life' or 'Popular'. But this time my family actually seemed to like it - right from Glinda's hilariously blonde comments about Dorothy's dog 'Dodo', to the unbelievable singing that just kept coming and coming.
This is definitely one of those musicals that's difficult to describe afterwards, but unusually for me I didn't leave the theatre only feeling deflated that it was over, instead I was just so happy I'd finally seen Defying Gravity performed live, after years of waiting. It was just as good and better than I could ever have hoped for it to be and I already want to go see it again - the sooner the better.
I'm still not sure which character I would rather be, but I know I couldn't be more jealous of the actors who get to play the parts. I can't even imagine how amazing it would be to be able to sing like that. 
Although the story did get lost in transition a little at times - I'm still not entirely clear on what exactly the Wizard was doing that made him and Elphaba become enemies, although I know it involved animals - the bits that did work were just so cleverly linked into the original 'Wizard of Oz' story, and the singing was some of the best I've ever heard. There was just the right mix between sad moments and funny moments, and 'Defying Gravity' might just be the most uplifting musical theatre song I've ever heard - looking round as the lights went up for the interval everyone was just staring at each other with open mouths, trying to comprehend how any human could sing so loudly and amazingly as they do at the end of that song.
Gina Beck as Glinda
There were riffs all over the place ('The Wizard and I', 'Defying Gravity' and 'No Good Deed' being the biggest songs), Gina Beck was fantastic as the shallow Glinda, and Louise Dearman literally unbelievable as Elphaba (even if my brother's only comment as we left the theatre was to say how short she was - I'm serious).
It made me so happy to see people of all ages in the theatre on Saturday night, not only because it means musical theatre is reaching many different generations, but also because 'Wicked' is such a powerful, relevant musical. The thing that is immediately obvious from the story and all the songs is the message to "never judge a book by its cover". And of course that's important, but, in my opinion, the more significant idea is that we can be anything we want to be, no matter what we look like or who others perceive us to be. Even though the whole of Oz knew Elphaba to be 'The Wicked Witch of the West', that doesn't mean that's who she really was, and although she conformed to that idea in front of them, she never fails to be herself to her true friends: Glinda and Fiyero, and even to the Wizard. She never stops fighting for what she believes in, taking no notice of what others think because she knows she is morally right. And that's why it's so great that so many people get to see the show (London's Wicked had their 5 millionth audience member at the show I went to see), especially with all the judgement that goes on in the world now-a-days. For young children, particularly girls, to see a show where someone who is not beautiful has the biggest songs, someone who is popular doesn't end up getting the guy, and where being yourself is undoubtedly the best thing you can be, it's
Ben Freeman as Fiyero
just so important.

Although Fiyero is most definitely a stereotypical male and can definitely be seen to be at least a little one dimensional, to me there was something a little more to him. I mean, if he really was a completely flat character he would almost certainly have married Glinda when she told him they were engaged. But instead he finds Elphie and helps her to be herself, even if that means going against the Wizard and his many guards, admitting he loves her without caring what others might think of that. I think it's so amazing to have a handsome prince reject the outwardly-beautiful girl for the girl he thinks is beautiful for her personality and who she is. As he said, although Elphie is supposedly ugly on the outside, seeing her as beautiful isn't lying "it's looking at things another way". Fiyero and Elphie are definitely one of the best musical theatre couples and it's so great that seeing beauty on the inside can be seen by so many people in such a successful musical. 
'Wicked' has some of the best songs in musical theatre and you could literally feel yourself being almost blown backwards by the force and power of the actor's voices. I already want to go and see it again, and hopefully this time people won't come in late and tread on my toe in heels right in the middle of 'What is this feeling?', but the show was just so good that didn't really ruin it at all. I hope everyone who has the opportunity to see this amazing musical does go, and I'm just so happy that a musical that is so relevant in today's judgemental society is so well-liked by so many people. Although 'Wicked' has left me with a weird want to travel everywhere by bubble or broom, the combination of a hilarious script and much needed moral messages mean 'Wicked' has been around for years, and will hopefully continue to be in the West End for many years to come. 10/10. 



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