If you go to London today, you'll find a plethora of West End venues boasting the shows that appear inside, from Sweeney Todd to Billy Elliot, Shrek to The Lion King. However, there is one that shines brighter than all the rest.
Based on the fantastic and addictive book by Gregory Maguire, which is in turn based on the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the theatre production of Wicked has quickly become a worldwide favourite.
It follows the unhappy life of Elphaba as she starts at the University of Shiz. Ostracized because of her green skin and the reluctant roommate of Galinda, Elphaba finds little enjoyment during her time at the university, other than the solace of academia and that one day the Wizard of Oz will set things right for her.
The musical shows a different side of the Wicked Witch of The West and Glinda the Good, the former is misunderstood and the latter a bit of a petty bully.
As a whole the story is a unique and charming twist on the classic, looking at the unlikely friendship between the two supposed enemies and the development of Elphaba's unpopularity when the truth about the wizard is uncovered and Dorothy lands in Oz.
From start to finish, the musical is witty and exceptionally clever, while it doesn't focus on Dorothy, it does make some reference to the original novel. A particular favourite is the line 'Lemons and melons and pears, oh my!'
Gradually, as the story goes on, more elements from the original are introduced such as the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow. Then there's Nessarose who you wouldn't expect to be the Wicked Witch of the East because of her quiet and unassuming temperament.
Of course, a musical can't be a musical without songs and it just so happens that Wicked has one of the best soundtracks to go with it. From Popular to Defying Gravity, each track has an element of fun as well as a deep sense of meaning. Once the show is over and you're driving in your car or listening to the CD at home, it's nigh on impossible not to belt out the words along with it.
It's nice to have a back story for all the other characters, even if they are unofficial. It makes you wish that these were the actual events of the tale. Not only does Elphaba become more likeable, but Galinda (later Glinda), who is so easy to dislike at the beginning, becomes one of the best characters in the production.
Whenever you find yourself in London, be sure to check out Wicked at Apollo Victoria. It's a show that's well worth the money and you will not come away disappointed.