Musical review: Wicked (2023)

Wicked, the iconic West End show, has become a must-see musical for families, especially during the school holidays. With its captivating storyline and powerful messages, the production has garnered immense popularity and has now extended its booking period to June 2024. Wicked explores themes of friendship, love, and standing up for what you believe in, while also promoting a strong anti-bullying message. Directed by Joe Mantello and featuring music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, this musical is based on Gregory Maguire’s novel, “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West,” and provides a beguiling backstory to the well-known characters from L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

Wicked musical official poster

Wicked has achieved remarkable success since its premiere and has received over 100 awards, including three Tony Awards and two Olivier Awards. Currently in its 17th year in London, the production boasts an impressive cast that includes Alexia Khadime as Elphaba, Lucy St. Louis as Glinda, and Ryan Reid as Fiyero. The talented ensemble brings their characters to life on stage, captivating the audience with their performances.

One of the standout aspects of Wicked is its music and lyrics, composed by Stephen Schwartz, who is a multi-Oscar and Grammy Award winner. Schwartz’s music beautifully complements the story, adding depth and emotion to the narrative. The songs are catchy and memorable, with powerful vocals from the cast that leave a lasting impression. The musical staging by Tony Award-winner Wayne Cilento enhances the overall production, creating visually stunning and impactful scenes.

The set design by Eugene Lee, costumes by Susan Hilferty, and lighting by Kenneth Posner further contribute to the immersive experience of Wicked. The attention to detail and the grandeur of the production transport the audience into the magical world of Oz. From the intricate costumes to the enchanting set pieces, every element of the show is meticulously crafted.

The story of Wicked delves into the untold friendship between two young women, Glinda and Elphaba, who meet as sorcery students at Shiz University. The blonde and popular Glinda, played by Lucy St. Louis, and the misunderstood green girl, Elphaba, portrayed by Alexia Khadime, form an unlikely bond. As their journey unfolds, their friendship is tested when they encounter The Wizard. The choices they make and the events that follow lead them on separate paths, shaping their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West. The story is filled with imagination, allegory, and unexpected twists, providing a fresh perspective on the beloved characters from Baum’s original tale.

Wicked_2023-24 London Company_Photo by Matt Crockett_1608_RT

Photo by Matt Crockett

In addition to its captivating story, Wicked also carries a strong social message. It explores the themes of bullying, the importance of standing up for oneself, and the value of true friendship. These messages resonate deeply with audiences of all ages, making Wicked an impactful and thought-provoking production. The musical’s anti-bullying stance is particularly commendable, as it encourages viewers to reflect on their own actions and treatment of others.

Wicked_Alexia Khadime (Elphaba)_Lucy St. Louis (Glinda)_Photo by Matt Crockett_0974_RT

Alexia Khadime (Elphaba) and Lucy St. Louis (Glinda) – Photo by Matt Crockett

The impact of Wicked extends far beyond the stage, as it has become a global sensation. It has been performed in over 130 cities across 16 countries, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, Germany, and Australia. The show’s success can be attributed to its universal themes and relatability, which transcend cultural boundaries. The fact that Wicked has been translated into six languages further highlights its international appeal.

 

The trailer 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=sZXb_1q920E

 

The verdict

Wicked london mums magazine collage 2023

Wicked is a must-see musical for families during the school holidays. Packed with wit, storming songs, and beautiful costumes, it offers an excellent show with a great set and impressive vocals. The Apollo Victoria Theatre provides a lovely atmosphere with its grand surroundings. The musical captivated both myself and my friend’s 7-year-old daughter, who even rated it 90 out of 10. While I would personally rate it 8/10, my only criticism is that the songs were often too long and the overall show was a bit lengthy.

However, having seen it three times over the span of 10 years, I found the 2023 version even more enjoyable. It has become more diverse and features more lavish costumes, which, in light of recent world events, made me see Wicked as a metaphor for our current society. Glinda The Good represents the self-absorbed world of social media, more interested in flaunting than forming genuine connections.

On the other hand, the Wicked Witch represents a real person with her own troubles and flaws, capable of empathising with others’ suffering due to her own experiences. The Wizard of Oz symbolises the legacy “matrix” media and controlling governments, disseminating false information to maintain power over the people. Oz also represents cancel culture, targeting the wicked witch simply because she is different (being Green). Furthermore, I appreciate how well Wicked ties in with the movie The Wizard of Oz, effectively serving as a continuation of the story.

The Apollo Victoria Theatre provides an ideal setting. Located minutes away from Buckingham Palace and opposite the London Victoria Mainline and Underground Stations, the theatre offers a grand atmosphere that complements the show.

More info can be found on the official website: ww.wickedthemusical.co.uk/faq/

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