Sunday, 19 April 2015

Wicked UK Tour


I have no words to describe how much I love Wicked. Well, I have words, otherwise this would be a very short review, but words cannot do justice to the emotion I feel just listening to the songs or even seeing a poster of the show, let alone actually watching it in a theatre. Fangirling gibberish would I suppose be the best way to sum up my reaction!
Obligatory map photo from our seats in Sunderland!

The first time I saw the show was in Edinburgh, just before Christmas. I knew a few of the songs, but knew nothing of the story or the cast. For once, doing no research beforehand proved to be a positive thing and I was completely blown away, so much so that I went to Sunderland to see it again last week! We managed to get tickets three rows from the front of the stalls this time too which was just amazing!

The first thing I noticed, and LOVED, was that the cast do the show in British accents! This might not seem like a big thing, but for one thing fake American accents grate on me, and for another it really suited the show - giving Glinda and Fiyero posh public school accents just worked perfectly! It just made the whole thing more real somehow and I haven't been able to listen to the original American soundtrack since!

I was surprised how much the story tied in with The Wizard of Oz, I had always assumed it to be a sort of prequel. I don't even really like The Wizard of Oz -which is why I didn't expect to love Wicked as much as I did- but even I managed to pick up on the majority of references, and thought the ending especially, without giving anything away, was really clever. I suppose this praise is directed at the novel as much as the musical, which as a book blogger I'm ashamed to say I haven't actually read yet!

Don't even get me started on the songs! The songs alone are enough to make this my all time favourite musical, they're just so packed with emotion, clever lyrics, and incredible riffs that I could listen to them forever - I pretty much do! It's impossible not to dramatically lip sync along, or attempt those ridiculous notes when you're in the shower - the echo on the tiles makes you sound marginally less vocally inadequate.

What really sold Wicked to me though was the cast. Emily Tierney is just delightful as Glinda. Her voice is beautiful, her face is beautiful (I know beauty isn't everything but she's gorgeous!), and her comic timing is spot on! She's completely believable as the spoilt and selfish Ga-linda who gradually evolves into the slightly more moralistic Glinda. I just adored her. Sam Edwards' Fiyero is great too -and he wore the white jodhpurs very well I have to say!

Emily Tierney as Glinda in her bubble.
Samuel Edwards and Fiyero with Ashleigh Gray's Elphaba.

Then there's the wonder that is Asheleigh Gray. Before I saw her in Edinburgh I'll admit I hadn't heard of her, and now she's all I talk about! The second time we saw the show in Sunderland we thought we had the standby Elphaba - they hadn't changed the cast board outside from the afternoon's matinee - so we were thrilled to discover that Ashleigh was actually going to be performing. This is by no means a slight on the understudy Jackie Hughes, I've looked her up on YouTube and she's amazing, but as soon as Ashleigh walked out on stage I realised that she was the reason  I was there. Her voice is just incredible; I've never heard anyone else end Defying Gravity with as much style as her, and her Fiyero riff hit me like a punch to the gut when I first heard it - I hadn't even listened to No Good Deed before so I had no idea it was coming! Most importantly though, aside from the phenomenal voice, you really believe she IS Elphaha, just as Emily IS Glinda. I genuinely can't imagine anyone else playing them now. Some Elphabas I've seen/heard play the 'Wicked'/No Good Deed side of her really well, whilst others play the naive student side of her better. Ashleigh is completely convincing as both, and plays it in such a way that you just love her from the start.

I saw Wicked for the first time because I wanted to see Wicked. I saw it the second time because I wanted to see  Ashleigh and Emily again. The two of them work fantastically well together, in terms of both acting and singing, and you can just tell that they get on well off stage too.
Asheleigh Gray as Elphaba and Emily Tierney as Glinda.

If you haven't had chance to catch this amazing show yet, please do! Of course, it's running in the West End too, but I honestly think that the tour cast is the best Wicked ensemble I've ever heard, but then maybe I'm biased. The tour heads to Aberdeen next before it's final stint in Salford so see it while you can!

Have you seen Wicked? And, with rumours rife of an impending film, who would be your dream cast? My jury is still out on Elphie and Glinda (unless it's Ashleigh and Emily of course), but Aaron Tveit HAS to be Fiyero, and Meryl Streep would make an excellent Madame Morrible in my opinion!

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