Hey guys, so sorry for delayed review. As Andy has said I was at Wicked last night as well as on Monday, for a friend's birthday. I did ask Rachel not to judge me for it!
I remember first seeing Wicked years ago, and falling in love with the show straight away. The witches are two of the most interesting and entertaining characters in the West End and to play one of them is just the ultimate achievement. So even before Monday night, Rachel was still a massive success. To come from losing the (small-ish haha) part of Nancy, to having a fantastic run as both Meat and Scaramouche in WWRY... and ending up as Elphaba in Wicked!
(Also, I should probably add right from the start that Rachel and Lee Mead (as Fiyero) has been my 'dream-casting' ever since she was in I'd Do Anything and he on Any Dream Will Do). And as such I've been counting down the days for months now. That was definitely the light at the end of my 'tunnel-of-deadlines'!!
So, by Monday, having broken up from uni and handed in lots of work, I was absolutely ecstatic to be heading to the Apollo.. for the first time in a while!
I met up with my friends and we all headed to Nandos together... (rather worryingly we saw Lewis Bradley just chilling out in there... about half an hour before he was due to open as Fiyero. We were all quite tempted to go and tell him to hurry up!). Just before 7 we headed to the show and took our (front row!!) seats.. slap bang in the middle as well. A perfect view!
Anyone who was there on Monday can testify that the audience were absolutely brilliant, and as soon as the show started everyone was clapping and cheering. Louise Dearman got a brilliant reception when she came in, floating down in the bubble. She sung her way through 'No One Mourns The Wicked' amazingly. Admittedly, having been such a huge Dianne Pilkington fan, I wasn't sure how anyone would be able to live up to that. But Louise did a really good job.
And then Rachel runs on stage, greeted by clapping and cheering. Straight away she commanded the stage. If she was nervous (which I guess you would be opening as Elphaba in the West End!) you really couldn't tell. She started acting out every single word (in a surprisingly convincing British accent!) and just looked so comfortable.
Rachel singing 'The Wizard and I' was something I'd really been looking forward to, just because that song has always been one of my favourites. And she didn't disappoint. Her voice is just absolutely stunning, and hearing her belt at the end of that song is incredible! It was wonderful.
I would single out every single moment of the performance on Monday, but we would be here all day! The whole of Act I was stunning. Rachel and Louise work so so so well together. Their chemistry is so believable and they both looked like they were having an absolutely fantastic time.
I always think of 'Defying Gravity' as, possibly, the most terrifying moment that anyone can ever experience. The notes at the end, the flying... eeek, terrifying! Yet Rachel performed it, almost effortlessly. I don't think I've ever been more impressed by that song (and that's saying something, as I've seen a fair few Elphies attempt it!). Before Monday, I would have said that nothing could have topped Kerry's last 'Defying Gravity'. But now, sorry Kerry, you've got a contender! It was absolutely stunning!!!
The next big WOW moment for me personally was 'No Good Deed'. As usual, she sounded amazing - but the thing that stood out for me was her acting. Anyone who saw her on 'I'd Do Anything' will know that she was, by far, the best actress. And the way she performed 'No Good Deed' was just heartbreaking - you really believed the anguish and pain in the lyrics. Wow, it was phenomenal!
I feel this would be an unfair review if I didn't mention the rest of the new Wicked London cast. Each and every member was totally brilliant and thoroughly deserving of the standing ovation they got at the end. Cassie Compton (Nessa), George Ure (Boq), Clive Carter (Wizard) and Lewis Bradley (Fiyero) were all fantastic. It was especially great to see George after he'd been bumped up to the role of Boq. We saw him afterwards and he was just thrilled!
So the show ended all too soon. The cast all got their standing ovation at the end of the show and Rachel's dad ran forward to wave and applaud his daughter who had just finished the performance of her life. It was lovely!!
I bumped into Rachel afterwards just as she was heading to the cast after party accompanied by her very proud family! She told me just how nervous she'd been but that she'd had the time of her life on the stage and just how long she'd wanted to play Elphaba. And then I told her not to judge us for coming back the very next day!!!
So Tuesday came around. After a (very) early start to queue for front row seats again, me, Juls, Laura and Emz spent the day in London... we ended up eating an absolutely massive pizza buffet before realising that, actually, we were supposed to be meeting friends for Juls' birthday meal in Wagamama's in less than 3 hours time. Oops!
Headed to Wagamama's in Victoria and Rachel and Lewis are at the next table. (I'm thinking one of these days I need to reassure Lewis that we're not actually following him around various restaurants in central London!).
I'm aware I've already rambled on for a very very very long time, so I'm going to try and keep it short and sweet - but I'll just say this: everything that was great on Monday night, was even better on Tuesday night. Already, the cast (including Rachel) seemed more relaxed and comfortable with each other. Rachel's 'big' songs ('The Wizard and I', 'Defying Gravity' and 'No Good Deed') were unbelievable! My words really can't do them justice.. So I'm not going to try! But everyone reading this will have heard Rachel's wonderful voice, and there is no better showcase for it than the songlist of Wicked.
I have to say as well that Louise Dearman really came into her own on Tuesday night. Having been a little bit disappointed by her on Monday night, I was totally blown away last night. She was absolutely hilarious!
After the show we wandered to the stage door because I suddenly realised I didn't have any photos to put at the top of this post! And had a nice chat with Rachel... about the show of course.. but also about how much we both miss Ricardo!
So that was it! The end of two fantastic days at the Apollo theatre in Victoria. Big thanks to the lovely friends I spent them with :)
And also, a big thanks and a well done to Rachel for a stunning debut as Elphaba! I loved every second of both performances, and will be back soon! (Don't worry though, by 'soon' I don't mean tonight...)
P.S Am looking forward to your review David... just heard on the news though that N.Ireland is experiencing snow storms so I hope you get home OK!