This long running West End production is still as dramatic and fun as it was when it first opened almost eleven years ago. Putting a fascinating twist onto the original story The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Wicked is (as the poster proclaims) the untold story of the witches of Oz and is filled with fun and magic that is still captivating audiences.
With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, the score is certainly one of the most powerful and most difficult to get right in terms of vocals – not just ‘Defying Gravity’ but also ‘No One Mourns the Wicked’ and ‘For Good’, really requiring strong vocals delivered with plenty of energy.
Thankfully, all of the cast put in stellar performances that succeed in immersing the audience into the wonderful world of Oz, giving all of the characters plenty of personality and warmth. From Willemijn Verkaik’s suitably introverted but good hearted Elphaba to Idriss Kargbo’s Boc – sweetly loyal but eventually stands for no nonsense, all of the cast work well together to create interesting relationships.
But watching the show, this isn’t simply a story about telling different side to The Wizard of Oz – but it is also a tale of prejudice, hardship, loyalty and standing out that is really relevant to what has been happening in the world recently – particularly with regards to discrimination and race related crimes.
Joe Mantello’s production is still as grand as ever and everything moves as slick as a well oiled machine that delivers in giving the audience the combination of stylish choreography, heartfelt script and gorgeous music.
There is a great energy and spirit about the show that is uplifting from beginning to end – even during the more poignant moments such as during the number ‘As Long As You’re Mine’ which has a constant thread of hope running through it or the conversations between Elphaba and Glinda, who despite their opposing attitudes to life help each other to become better people .Glinda in particular is influenced by Elphaba more than she realises in terms of becoming more compassionate and less selfish.
Overall, Wicked has lost none of its power to enchant audiences and to magic them to the land of Oz – great family entertainment.