I have never had the pleasure of watching Wicked at the theatre before and I was thrilled to be asked last night to the Liverpool Empire Theatre to add this to my list of must see musicals in a lifetime.
Winner of 100 international awards including 3 Tony Awards, a Grammy for 'Best Musical Theatre' and the Olivier Award for 'Most Prestigious Show'. It has been in theatres for over a decade all around the globe and continues to cast a spell over audiences all over the UK; this year, I am delighted to say, it's flown into Liverpool for one month only. It is now the tenth longest running show in the West End since it's opening in 2006 in the UK and when you go to see it, it's clear to see why it has all of these accolades to its name.
The characters are all from the original book by American author Gregory Maguire Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995) which he wrote while he was in London. It tells the story of the unexpected friendship between two very different students who eventually become Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.
Despite their polar opposite personalities and fight for the same one true love, they share a strong and unique bond.
The most striking thing for me about this play was the chemistry between the two leads, the voices of Ashleigh Gray and Emily Tierney complimented each other perfectly and the power in the voice of The Wicked Witch of the West (Gray) brought me to tears.
The music and lyrics are very catchy (we were singing them all the way home) and really stretch the singers' voices, as they have to hit a wide range of notes in every song. Written by Stephen Schwartz, responsible for the music in the likes of Godspell, Pocahontas, The Prince of Egypt and The Hunchback of Norte Dame; with that CV you know that you are in for a musical treat. The songs have subsequently been covered by a number of singers and featured on TV shows like Glee, so their appeal is timeless.
The set itself was very impressive. It boasted a huge red eyed dragon above the audience in centre of the stage and a map upon the partition curtain, marked with 'The Emerald City', I knew that the production would be polished from seeing this alone as we waited for it to begin.
There has clearly been a lot of money invested in the set, make-up and costumes. From the mechanical wizard, the dark forests and classroom scenes, to the jewel adorned and layered costumes, not to mention, the spectacular lighting, the look of the play was eye-catching and breath-taking. And it was fifty shades of green!
Glinda's character stayed true to the book and arrived and exited in a bubble and Elphaba took to the skies on her broomstick and sang her heart out as only one would expect in a play about witches.
The play ties in nicely with the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz as references are made to Dorothy, the ruby slippers, the cowardly lion, the tin man and the scarecrow. It puts to rest those unanswered questions of how all the key characters came to be and cheekily pokes fun at some of the elements from the classic film that we have all come to know and love.
My partner and I both expected the play to be the inspiration behind the recent movie Oz the Great and Powerful, so we were both pleased to find that this was a fresh story inspired by the original characters envisioned by L. Frank Baum in 1900.
The play had a standing ovation at the end- and there is no higher achievement at the theatre. That is testament enough to go and buy your tickets now!
Liverpool Empire Theatre,
Tagged in Liverpool Empire Theatre