Wednesday, 31 March 2010


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!


Dan said...

ahhh thanks so much for the review!!
I was going to wait till Lee Mead is in it, but i don't think i can wait much longer lol

No Good Deed has always been a favourite of mine and it requires a fantastic actress to deliver the passion and desperation of it so I KNOW that Rachel will excell with this! :)


Rosie said...

Haha yeah, I think when Lee joins in May you're never gonna be able to get me away from that theatre!!! Although i do think you'll be pleasantly surprised by Lewis.. he did a really good job in my opinion!

Yeah i was gonna add actually that Rachel is by far the Elphaba i've felt most for.. like the way she acts it you just truly believe the vulnerability of the character. Going into it waaaay too much now so i'm gonna sshh but yes, she's great. End of! xx

bloom2507 said...

I was wondering if anyone saw Wicked when it first opened in London and Idina Menzel was playing Elphaba. I saw Wicked in the very early days of its glorious history with the whole original cast. I went to see it thanks to a friend of mine. She had told me the very (sad)/sweet story of how Idina had fallen and hurt her ribcage in New York during a performance, and hadn't had a chance to experience a 'closing night' in Broadway, so she had desperately wanted to be part of the cast in London to get that experience. Because of that story, I was already keen on 'supporting' her. Oh My Oz (as someone suggested we say from now on)... I didn't know exactly what to expect from Wicked, the show had just recently started, I hadn't looked for any spoilers nor listened to the songs. At the end of the first act, I saw this quite minute woman being lifted from the stage, in all the dazzling special effects, singing her soul out with a pitch to her voice that made me think I was going to become deaf. That first Defying Gravity moment opened a new dimension of musical theatre for me. It is a moment I will never forget. I went back to see Wicked again, I saw different casts, and I always felt like Elphaba had left the night Idina had. It was kind of hard. And then obviously Rachel landed in OZ :) I adored her on Monday, I was in awe of her when she performed No Good Deed. Funny enough, NGD had never been a favourite of mine, and I hadn't really fallen for it when Idina had performed it. But Rachel, wow, she added... what is it... the 5th by now... dimension to that stage. She cast another spell for me on that stage. Rachel was glorious, I will be back to see her again soon, and I can't wait and I also feel this expectation, that is the reason why I am writing this, and would love to hear from people who saw the show with the original cast. Rachel is an Amazing actress, she makes even the movements of her fingers count! She has such a powerful, pure, beautiful voice. She has brought Elphaba back to London for me, and I couldn't be more grateful. Yet, her interpretation of DG on Monday was soooooooooooo different from Idina's. I obviously get the concept that they have very different qualities to their voices, and maybe very different feelings about that specific song. Idina sang DG with rage almost, with outrage I should say, her voice was harsh and yet someone her pitch was always perfect. I think DG really was her moment in the show. At the same time I think, maybe, DG has such a big impact, even visually, that the first time you see it will always necessarily be the one Defining (Gravity) moment :) The more I see Wicked, the richer the show becomes to me, and Rachel has filled it all over again with emerald and gold. I think the first time I saw Wicked, DG really was all I could think about. I know that one night had created this thrillifying ‘expectation’ that I have, every time, for the end of the first Act and DG, but I am trying to lose it. Rachel was perfect on Monday and true and truly Elphaba, like Idina had been ‘my’ other Elphaba in the past. There is only that one tiny DG moment, when Rachel is Rachel, and Idina is Idina. And it’s almost a trompe l’oeil, if you know what I mean, like the illusion breaks. I briefly spoke with Rachel about Idina Menzel at the stage door. Rachel’s first comment was: ‘SHE was great’ (meaning, compared to me), which is obviously so humble and SO WRONG!! :) of Rachel to say. But I really mentioned Idina to thank Rachel for bringing Elphie back (which I think Rachel was quite surprised about). Anyway, I promise I will never write such a long post again! but I would love to know what others think about this topic. Most people I talk to about Wicked mention KE, AK, and of course Rachel, very rarely I hear or read Idina’s name, which, to me, is so strange. I really can’t wait to see Rachel again, I never thought I could have fallen in love with Wicked all over again… Rachel’s spell :)

Dan said...

Who are other people's favourite Elphies other than Idina (and Rachel).

My first show, I saw Cassidy Janson and knew nothing about the show except Defying Gravity.

I was blown away by her completely, I didnt even know she was an understudy... i said to my friend
"wow that Kerry Ellis really is as good as they say she is"

Here's Cassidy singing No Good Deed, and this is why i loved the song from the beginning.

bloom2507 said...

Hi Dan,
I don't know whether you follow Wicked on Facebook. They have posted this today:
'WICKED London IMPORTANT MESSAGE: The posting of film and audio recordings from performances is ILLEGAL and strictly prohibited. All such posts will be removed and the FANatic banned from future performances. By honouring this request you will also be honouring the artists committed to creating the magic of the WICKED London live experience every single performance.'
I haven't even tried to open your link, as I hate youtube, but just thought to let you know in case it is a link to illegal material. Personally, I do believe it is a duty of any Wicked/Rachel/theatre fan to boycot and report any illegal recordings, NOT TO ENJOY THEM!

ines said...

yeah, that's all very nice, but i live very far and unfortunately i will never be able to go and see wicked. so i apprechiate it very much when people are kind enough to show us through youtube what we will never have the privilege to see and enjoy. So shush and mind you're own business.

Dan said...

ye bloom, that's not a video that i made i was simply linking to it, which breaks no rules whatsoever.

People will film and record sound of theatre shows... they do it all the time. In this day and age it's just too hard to control.

I even heard a story of Kerry Ellis joking with a fan afterwards about that surely they had enough footage on their camera... *wink wink*.

If you choose not to watch them, then that's up to you. But if the theatres had a problem with such video's being posted, then they'd ask youtube to remove them, which i think is quite easy to do.

Victoria Maginnis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rosie said...

Just a bit of info for anyone stuck for summat to watch over the bank holiday - West End Story on BBC1 at 4pm, Monday - What Nancy, Joseph and Maria did next.. may be worth a watch!