Monday, 13 December 2010

Gemma's Wicked Birthday

Wicked Review 2010. 11/12/2010

After seeing Wicked for the first time last year, I have been a huge fan. The first time I saw it I was blown away and it certainly left a ‘handprint on my heart’. It has an amazing power to lift you up and make you feel good about yourself. Afterwards, when I passed my driving test, I decided on buying a green car, and coincidently it had a number plate ending in ‘GEL’....Glinda and ELphie  This was too much for me and am proud to say my little car ‘Elphie’ is sat in the drive away at the moment. And yet despite getting the wicked tickets as a surprise for my 19th birthday for me and my mum, I wasn’t as excited as I thought I would be. I had seen wicked twice before, once for my 18th birthday with Ashleigh Grey and Diane Pilkington as our favourite witches, and then once in March with Alexia and Diane before cast change. I had been meaning to go and see Rachel and Louise since I first heard they were taking over, as I had seen their performance of ‘Rely On Me The Lead’ on YouTube. And yet I still wasn’t as excited as I wanted to be. But that was probably due to having to work in the morning before hand, and my friend (who had seen Wicked 13 times) wasn’t very reassuring. I had told him I was seeing Rachel as Elphie and he made a very discontent sound, and said ’unlucky’. (Turns out he had seen Rachel as Elphie before she’d really gotten into the role, and after seeing Wicked 13 times he has a very strong opinion and that he had actually thought she wasn’t that bad, he was just a huge Alexia Fan). I was hoping he was wrong about Rachel due to the reviews I’d read. My mum drove us down to the station and I was disappointed to find our train to London had been delayed, but all was not lost. We had left ourselves plenty of time to get down to London and eat before the evening performance.

Walking out of London Victoria Station is always a big moment for me. As I walk out of the station and look right, the sight of the Victoria Apollo Theatre in all its wickedness never fails to take my breath away and give me butterflies in my tummy. This time was slightly different however. I was just crossing the road when I spotted a group of people having their photograph taken by the stage door. I had a chat with mum and we concluded that the matinee show hadn’t finished long ago and the cast were coming out to see fans. I looked closer and in the middle of this group I was pretty sure was Rachel Tucker. I almost stopped dead in the middle of the road in shock, but being in the middle of a busy road in London was not a clever idea. We carried on walking before I turned to mum and said ‘you know I swear I just saw Rachel tucker’. It may have been her, it may not have...but I like to think it was!

Dinner was great, we enjoyed the nice pizza hut with me and mum reciting our favourite quotes from the last time we saw the show and our favourite scenes. This really got me in the mood for Wicked. At seven we made our way down to the theatre. I kept an eye out for cast changes for the evening and was glad to see that I would still be watching Rachel and Louise. We bought our programme, (I still have the programme when Alexia and Diane were in the show, but I wanted a Rachel and Louise Programme!) and bought my souvenir. Every time I see wicked I have to buy something. The first time I went a year ago, I bought the grey Wicked hoodie, in march I bought the Grimmerie, and for this trip I bought the ‘For Good’ Glitter Globe! Walking into the auditorium and seeing the stage with the time dragon clock I remembered the first time I had been and the fact that I was actually going to see Rachel and Louise!! The excitement was building! And the seats were pretty good as well only having booked two weeks before hand! We were sat in row Y of the stalls, Isle seats 10 and 11. We were sat next to two teenage girls who were giggling away so I was a little worried they would chatter through the performance, but I needn’t have worried. As soon as the lights went down and the unmistakable ‘no one mourns the wicked’ opening began, I had a huge grin on my face. Louise in her bubble was AMAZING! I was blown away by her voice, it was just spectacular! And as soon as Rachel ran on stage I knew this was going to be amazing. She acted the part so well! She had all the little mannerisms of Elphie perfect, I couldn’t take my eyes off her! I particularly loved her delivery of the line ‘I’m beautifully tragic’! Her ‘The Wizard and I’ was fantastic, she looked so...elated! It was all I could do not to sing along! And I must say...that girl looks great green! During ‘What is this feeling’ I kept my eyes on Rachel as I know this is a great opportunity for some comedy, and I wasn’t disappointed! Her little actions during ‘Every little trait however small’ were hilarious, flicking an imaginary bag and popping her foot! This is probably the song I remember most actually because of how genius she was throughout it! Pulling funny faces at Louise, flicking her glasses up and down her nose like one of the pink ladies in Grease was hilarious! And then to top it off, during them signing the last couple of lines, walking about toward each other ready for Rachel to make Louise jump, instead of walking, Rachel was doing some play kung foo moves across the stage towards Louise! How Louise didn’t laugh I’ll never know, I was in stitches!

Lee Meads Dancing through life was funny, when he took the book off George and went to throw it off stage, it actually hit the edge of the scenery and bounced back, almost hitting George in the head! Lee was good, though I do prefer Oliver Tompsett. Rachel’s dancing in the ‘Ozdust ballroom’ was so awkward and perfect for Elphie. And she looked genuinely devastated to find out the Galinda had given her the hat as a joke. Popular. Wow. Need I say more? Louise really shone during this scene and seeing the pair together as friends was amazing, they had so much chemistry. During the scene where Elphie tells Galinda it’s her fault her sister is the way she is, I wanted to cry! Or run on stage and hug them. One of the things I remember most is Louise’s ‘That’s not fair, I told you a really good one!’ Where she flopped down on the bed face first. No one could stop laughing the whole time she was laying there! that got one of the biggest laughs of the night, her just laying there! The toss toss was perfect. I love her Louise’s Glinda tosses, and then giggles as she moves her leg down her thigh, I was so looking forward to seeing Rachel try and copy. And again I wasn’t disappointed! It was such an awkward giggle! And when she fell off the bed trying to do the toss toss looked so natural, almost as if it wasn’t planned, though I know it was.

The scene between Fiyero and Elphie after saving the loin club was stunning. Most of the audience were holding their breath when she reached out to touch Lee’s face. During I’m Not That Girl I really felt for Elphie, more so than I had done the previous two times id scene the show. And When Galinda and Fiyero run over the bridge at the top of the stage I always love how, when they run off, Fiyero pauses and looks back down at Elphaba for a moment before following Galinda.

During Louise’s name change speech, I decided to watch Lee and Rachel for their reactions to it. Perfect. They watched Louise with humour and scepticism written across their faces, and yet a for small moments they could glance at each other and look quickly look away. Amazing background acting. When Clive Carter came on stage, he had such a presence, and he played the wizard like I’d never seen him played before! Definitely my favourite wizard! He had the look of power and yet he also looked a little torn at some points, really bringing the character to life!

Now. Defying Gravity. I always get bundles of nerves when I watch this scene. 1/ because of its sheer amusingness and hope that the actor can live up to it and really belt out the song, and 2/ because I’ve heard the audio of Kerry Ellis’s accident on the lift and I always get a little worried about the actress in the lift. But it all went smoothly thank god. I noticed during this scene that the two girls sat next to me were now holding hands and were really into it. Rachel’s defying gravity was....there are no words! It was too good! She hit all the right notes, and showed so much emotion during the line ‘As someone told me lately: "Ev'ryone deserves the chance to fly!" And if I'm flying solo, At least I'm flying free, To those who'd ground me, Take a message back from me’ was outstanding, She looked heartbroken at the thought of ‘flying solo’ etc and I’d never seen an Elphie bring that much emotion into that lyric before. I was grinning the whole way through and when Rachel hit the final note, she put so much into it, and she growled. Throughout the whole interval I was telling my mum how amazing Rachel was and how glad I was she had growled and how amazing it had been!

Thank goodness really showed off Louise’s skills as a singer and actor. Bloody hell that girl can sing! And the look on her face when fiyero left, saying how she couldn’t be could tell that Glinda’s happiness was all an act. The last time I was Wicked in March, the wardrobe during ‘The Wicked Witch of the East’ failed to come out, but this time thankfully it did. George did a fantastic job as Boq and Cassie Compton was brilliant as NessaRose.

For some reason, every time I thought of wicked, I missed out wonderful. That will certainly never be happening again. This time I spotted Rachel up the stairs at the side of the stage watching Glinda and Fiyero dance. The look of heartbreak, confusion and a hint of jealously written on Rachel’s face really made that for me. She looked so torn. And yet most of the focus was on Louise and Lee. If you can’t tell by now, I like to watch the actors who aren’t the centre of things to see their reactions etc, it really bring a new depth to Wicked for me. It was this scene that made me fall in love with Clive Carter as the wizard. He acted everything so precisely and he had added so many little actions that the previous actor hadn’t. Which really showed me how truly amazing he is. And Rachel during this scene, although she didn’t get a lot of lines, again was fantastic. And I really enjoyed the small dance between the Wizard and Elphie before she stops him about the flying monkeys. Rachel’s cackle after telling the wizard her ‘heart’s desire’ to fight him was...Wicked! I held up high hopes for the cackle in the corn field.

The scene between Glinda, Fiyero and Elphie was heart breaking, though the line ‘we all went to uni together’ got a lot of laughs. Louise’s I’m not that girl was full of betrayal and yet there was some understanding. Fantastic. As long as your mine...Jesus Christ. Rachel and Lee really shone. You genuinely believed that they were lovers, he was kissing her hands and stroking her face whilst she looked so torn about what she had done to Glinda, and yet so happy to be in his arms. Stunning. And then Rachel did something I hadn’t seen Ashleigh or Alexia do. When Elphie talks about her sister being in trouble and hurt, Rachel grabbed her chest as if she was in actual pain, and then looked shocked and confusion by the pain, as if she and her sister shared a connection and Elphie could feel her pain. That was something entirely new to me and it was genius.

The catfight. Hilarious. One of my all-time favourite lines ‘we can’t all come and go by bubble’ was delivered perfectly. The only slightly disappointing part was Rachel’s cackle. After her earlier cackle I held up high hopes but unfortunately it wasn’t as good as I had hoped. But then again its very difficult to build into a cackle when you’re not genuinely laughing, as I have tried. But I knew she could do it from her earlier cackle so that didn’t really bother me. Rachel’s No Good Deed was the best I had ever heard. There was so much emotion in her voice and the power behind it. I was sat with my mouth hanging open. It was flawless! When we got to ‘For Good’ The girls next to me were in tears, and I wasn’t close off. You could really see how close the pair were and what good friends they were. Louise managed to lighten the mood slightly when she fiddled with the front of Elphies hat in affection with them both giving a sad little laugh. It just fit so well. And the melting, Rachel’s melting scream strongly reminded me of the Original Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz.

There was a murmur through the audience and I heard someone gasp when we found out that Elphie was the Wizards daughter. It was acted beautifully by Clive. You genuinely believed that he had made me daughter an outcast and the pain he felt now she was ‘dead’. When Lee came back as the scarecrow and let Rachel out of the trap door, everyone in the audience was captivated, either in shock or awe, I’m not sure which. When Louise and Rachel sang the reprise of no one mourns the wicked, Rachel looked stunning! Given she was wearing that light black dress and some of her wig pinned back, but she looked beautiful. I turned to my mum and actually said ‘Mum, she looks stunning!’ Mum merely nodded in agreement as she was too engrossed in the scene.

Needless to say, it was the best production of Wicked I have scene. Rachel and Louise have replaced Ashleigh and Diane as my favourite leads. Of course they got a standing ovation at the end. And when the music was playing and everyone was waving and clapping, Rachel started doing a kind of wave dance. It was entertaining and when the curtain was going down she was crouching down with it until the curtain had completely fallen. I had originally wanted to stay to see the cast at stage door, but we had to get our train, but from a distance walked back to the station I manage to get a quick glimpse of Clive and Cassie meeting the fans.

On the train home I was looking back through the programme when a foreign couple started asking me about the show, so I was more than happy to talk about it and recommend it, though they’d never even seen the Wizard of Oz Film! So when they left they assured me they would rent the dvd and then go see Wicked  birthday gift ever! Rachel and Louise didn’t disappoint and I will definitely be returning to watch them with friends as soon as I have the money. It was of course Rachel who really stood out for me. I’d totally forgotten by the end of the show that Rachel actually has an Irish accent as you couldn’t tell on stage at all. Her voice, facial expressions, and everything was just perfect.


Andy said...

WOW, great review Gemma. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

Reading your superbly detailed review I found all my own memories of this wonderful show flooding back.

Rachael.Hughes said...

Wow! Totally fab review, thank you so much for sharing. It really does bring it all back, my next trip can't come soon enough!
I am overjoyed that you loved Rachel and Louise. Rachel is amazing in this role, it's like she was born to play it. Thank you again, it was almost like being there!!!

PS: have you heard Rachel and Louise on Tim Prottery-Jone's album?

Dan said...

fantastic review! your description really took me somewhere lol

have to say though... you probably didn't miss Rachel as I don't think she comes out between shows i.e. after matinee and before the evening... as it takes too long to de-greenify. maybe it was cassandra compton with her hair down?

Stephanie said...

Oh my god, what an amazing review! I really loved reading it, way better than mine!

And Andy, she also mentioned foot popping, lol :-)!

It was a perfect Birthday present! mine is in February, so hopefully!


Stephanie said...

Has anyone seen that before?

It's hilarious!

Gemma said...

Im glad you all liked the recview, sorry about all the spelling mistakes, i wrote it at like 2 in the morning :) And stephanie...thats the funniest video i have ever seen! thats what really made me want to see Rachel and Louise even more!!


Andy said...

LOL, yes it seems like everyone has heard of foot popping except me, I've obviously led a very sheltered life.

We did feature that Jest End video on the blog somewhere Stephanie. I'll probably post a link to it again sometime because you never tire of watching it.

I did read something about the Tim Prottery Jones album yesterday Rachael. I'll do a small post on the blog because it might make a nice Christmas present.

Gemma said...

I bought 'Rain On Me' sung by Rachel from the Tim Prottey-Jones album yesterday and its simply stunning!! Definetly worthy of its own blog post ;)

Joyce said...

wow Gemma your review is sooo detailed it makes me feel i should look out for all those as well!!

is this the foot popping thingy? :)

stephanie- when's your birthday? mine's in february too! looking forward to a great birthday present :)

Stephanie said...


Ooh yeah, that's the one :-p!

Stephanie said...

Ooh, my birthday is on February 6th! 24 by then :-).
Hoping for a great present too!
When is yours?

Anonymous said...

Hi Gemma
THANK YOU for a wonderful review. We really felt like we were there too, you didn't miss any detail. We loved reading all about it. Your Elphie car sounds great. Will you be getting pink seat covers? Cos pink looks good with green!
Best Wishes
Lindsay & Jessica

Gemma said...

Lindsay & Jessica

Thank you so much, im so glad you enjoyed it :) Haha i do love my little Elphie :) Im trying to find teh perfect little pink flower for it the one glinda wears in her hair ;)

Thanks Again