Reviewed by Helen Warner
The record-breaking theatre show Wicked is based on the untold ‘prequel’ to the Wizard of Oz. It is no surprise that it has bagged over 100 major awards which includes three Tony Awards on Broadway and two Olivier Awards in the UK. The story based on the novel by Gregory Maguire takes you through the friendship and destiny of Glinda played by Helen Woolf and the Wicked Witch of the West (Elphaba) played by Amy Ross. Aaron Sidwell as Fiyero, Steven Pinder as The Wizard of Oz/Doctor Dillamond, Kim Ismay as Madame Morrible, Emily Shaw as Nessarose and Iddon Jones as Boq make up some of the cast of over 30. Wicked first opened fourteen years ago and it’s easy to see why it has been going strong since…
When I entered the Mayflower Theatre auditorium I immediately noticed the refurbishment that had taken place over the summer. The theatre had an air of opulence that it has perhaps been lacking previously, which can be expected as the last refurbishment was over 30 years ago. The new scheme is a rich gold and red colour scheme which complimented the building perfectly, and the luxurious feel continued with the new seating, which included new row markers. This was great for me as I found it much easier to find my seat. I particularly liked the centre of the ceiling in the auditorium as it looked like a beautiful night sky full of twinkling stars.
I didn’t actually know the storyline to Wicked prior to the show, but it became quickly obvious that it was based around the Wizard of Oz.
The set for Wicked immediately caught my attention with the large dragon head and wings towering over the stage, making me feel excited for the show to start. During some dramatic parts of the performance the dragon ‘came to life’ with its menacing red eyes glowing and its head moving side to side. The show started and I was mesmerised from beginning to end, the set was truly spectacular, with scene changes smooth and flawless, changing the scene dramatically to perfectly suit the scene. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more impressive, things moved around and amazed me more. It didn’t surprise me to find out that the production team makes up over 100 people. The costumes were fantastic! In fact, Susan Hilferty who was the costume designer and Eugene Lee the set designer both won the 2004 Tony Awards for their work on Wicked which was clearly well deserved.
The songs in the performance were catchy and brilliantly timed to the storyline. All the singers were fantastic, in particular Amy Ross (Elphaba) and Helen Woolf (Glinda) whose voices were so powerful and beautiful that they gave me goose bumps at times. I really liked the ‘Wizard of Oz’ face, it moved in such a way that made it look as though it was floating and even the eyebrows moved, the attention to detail was phenomenal. Each set change was a feast for the eyes and it seemed that everything had been thought of. The performance from all the cast members was honestly faultless and energetic, it was perfectly executed making the show a magical experience throughout. I wasn’t prepared for the range of emotions that the show evoked with humour, sadness, intrigue and messages of morality. I didn’t want the show to end and clearly no one else did either judging by the deafening applause and cheers with a standing ovation. When I was leaving all I could hear were other audience members gushing about how wonderful the show was. If you see one thing this year, make sure it is this.
Showing at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton until 27 October for its final tour in the south of England, you really will not want to miss it. Tickets are selling fast so grab them whilst you can, you won’t regret it!
Tickets cost from £24.50 to £65 (booking fees may apply).
Wicked is at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton from 3-27 October 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.mayflower.org.uk or call the box office on 02380 711811.
Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811