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Published August 21st 2012
On your brooms, ready? Fly
Brilliant, hilarious and enthralling do not begin to describe the musical "Wicked". In Apollo Victoria Theatre, the earth stood still and the stars aligned to enchant with music and art London's night. Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire and with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, "Wicked" offers an alternative background to the beloved classic "Wizard of Oz" as "the untold story of the witches of Oz". Witty, modern and courageous, throughout the musical, there were clever references to the original story.
In a bold reference and alteration to Shakespeare's famous phrase in "Twelfth Night", the musical sets out with a challenging question - "Are people born wicked or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?"- An interrogation that founds the soul of the whole story about the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba.
Far from inspiring horror and dismay, the main character, who faced the duel of being different given the green colour of her skin, won the hearts and tears of the audience from the start. Being anything but wicked, Elphaba was cast away by society for defending the animal rights of Oz. Ironically, her own isolated position in life led her to raise her voice in the midst of oppression and injustice, leading to her exile as the common enemy by unjust infamous reputation.
One uses a broom and the other travels by bubble. There are always two sides to a story, and long before Dorothy defeated the Wicked Witch of the West by throwing water at her, the latter and the Good Witch of the West, Glinda, were surprisingly good friends confronted by destiny and love of one man. A funny courageous twist to the classic story in which is based the musical that completely challenges the concepts of good and evil in "Wizard of Oz". "Wicked" is an upside down background story that changes everything and in its conception, it is interesting how it reflects that reality changes depending on the glass through which is looked at.
The doses of spectacle were spellbinding. World class talent replenished the British capital with the acting, voices, musicians and backstage crew. The star of the night was undeniably Rachel Tucker (Elphaba), who honoured the original Broadway star Idina Menzel with her glorious, high pitch, strong voice that sent the audience through the roof in awe and emotion. Rachel's co-star, Gina Beck was the ideal "Glinda" and also did justice to the original Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth. Her fairy-tale princess beauty, amazing vocals and brilliant acting were the perfect ingredient for this musical to be a success. She was born to bring this character to life. Her performance was hilarious when need be and that was an essential element of the show.
The thrilling special effects, flying sequences, the magical casting, the impressive choreography, the detailed costumes, masks, make-up and stage setting teleported us to a dreamland. Behold the Land of Oz! Surrounded by magical creatures, the mystic sets and lighting, mesmerizing music and dazzling stage presence, like in a state of hypnotism, the curtains fell before reality started setting in.
The climax "defies gravity" in all its graceful and surprising. The excitement builds up among stage montage and magnificent vocals that made us feel like we were flying along with cast on brooms. With a doubt, Wicked is a drug for the senses.