Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Directed by Joe Mantello
Starring Jennifer DiNoia, Savannah Stevenson, Jeremy Taylor, Liza Sadovy, Martyn Ellis, Philip Childs, Sam Lupton and Katie Rowley Jones
Apollo Victoria Theatre, London

by Ella Fitzsimmons

If you live in a big town like London, you rarely end up doing touristy things other than when you have visitors. Which was why I was childishly excited to see Wicked. People may have judged me for being mainstream when I said I was going, but I could see the glint of jealousy in their eyes. They were right to be jealous. Wicked’s an evening of shameless big budget fun, slick, well produced and with Jennifer DiNoia joining from the US in the lead role of Elphaba.

A backstory to The Wizard of Oz, Wicked’s based on Gregory Maguire’s bestseller of the same name. Seeing it, you can see why Wicked the musical has run for years in both New York and London. It’s a compelling show. Sure, it has nods to L Frank Baum’s allegory about late 19th century American monetary policy (yes, I recognise that’s not an entirely accepted theory, but I don’t care), but the core of the story is the relationship between perpetual-outsider-turned-ethical-crusader Elphaba and mean-girl-gone-good Glinda. I was thinking about how friendship between women (or, in this case, witches) is shown in books and on stage, and was reminded how starved we are for stories where it’s not all about a male love interest. Sure, Glinda and Elphaba fight over pretty-boy-with-hidden-depths Fiyero, but their main differences are ethical. Because women can think of other things than pretty boys. Win. Friend and I fist-bumped in response to this rare victory of representation.

The real joy of watching Wicked, though, is in the tunes. Belted out at full lung capacity, these are power ballads and calls to arms that had me and a couple of nine year old girls bursting into tears, ready to take on the world. There’s no shame. Go see Wicked. Defying Gravity, indeed.


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