Monday 23 January 2017

Review: Wicked, the Musical at the Apollo Victoria

Images courtesy of the Wicked Musical website

I'll start off by being totally upfront with you - Wicked is an amazing West End show and we absolutely loved it. In fact last week was the second time I've seen it. A show doesn't run in a theatre that seats 2,300 people for over ten years if it isn't good, does it?

I found the Wicked story line so very clever, it isn't a prequel, nor a sequel to the Wizard of Oz, it runs alongside it and some of it does happen before the classic story that we all know but I love the way the two stories intertwine together, it is very, very clever. The story keeps you hooked from the moment it starts right through to the end.  I easily could have watched for another hour.  Needless to say the show ended with a standing ovation from the crowd.  The performances were absolutley sublime.

I really don't want to tell you too much about the story line though as that would take away some of the fabulous surprise elements. Although having said that, I saw it in 2011 with my mum and then this time with my husband and I didn't recall the story line at all, how bizarre is that? I know I loved it first time round though as I have the evidence here on my blog.

So many themes are explored as part of this theatre show- friendship, falling in love, being disappointed, being different and learning to accept yourself, not being one of the popular kids and standing up for what you believe is right to name just a few. Probably my favourite angle to the show is that things are not always what they seem, so you mustn't judge a book by its cover because bad isn't always bad (or wicked in this case).

The show is hosted at the Apollo Victoria theatre which is a marvellous piece of British history. It is a really good sized theatre and you don't feel cramped at all. There are loads of ladies toilets and in fact it is the first theatre I've ever been to and not had to queue. The loos are all very smart, clean and well stocked. 

Entrance to the theatre was easy and flowed well. We arrived about 7.05pm for our 7.30pm performance and we were sat in our seats by 7.15pm. All the seats are positioned well and we had a clear line of sight to the stage despite being in row T, seats 32 and 33. They are also wide enough for a larger person to still be comfy and had plenty of leg room for my 6ft husband.

You could rent binoculars for £1 if you wished and it was the first time I've ever seen snacks and drinks available to buy via an app and they are then delivered to you at your seat. Talk about service! I thought the prices were pretty reasonable too with an 187ml glass of house wine costing £5.50, a 500ml Pepsi for £3.50 and a variety bag for £6.50 with a 330ml bottle of water, corners crisps, coasted raisins and a Beechdean they serve a variety of filled bagels if you didn't have time for dinner too!

The performance started promptly at 7.30pm with the first half running for 1.5 hours. The interval was then about 20/25 minutes and the second half just an hour. So we were finished and out the theatre for 10.25/30pm. There are oads of local restaurants and takeaways if you want to get a bite to eat and of course transport links to Victoria are excellent. We stayed in Vauxhall which was a few minutes on the tube and very convenient. 

The cast were phenomenal and I'd be hard pushed to choose a favourite, both Glinda and Elphaba were excellent. They had very different voices but when they sang together and their voices blended well, it was stunning and so much power. It's worth noting that on the evening we went Susie Mathers was not performing Glinda, so we had the standby Carina Gillespie and she was amazing, I had no idea until afterwards!

I recognised Anita Dodson as Madam Morrible straight away and it was good to see a household name in the show. She doesn't have the strongest voice by far but her acting skills more than made up for it.

It goes without saying that the scenery and sets were amazing, really out of this world stunning and the scene changes were seamless. One minute the stage is a bright and sparkly emerald city and the next a foggy dark forest and it just transitions perfectly in sync with the music, mood and performance happening on stage at that moment. 

Along with the amazing sets there is also glorious costumes and so many changes it is unreal. The lights are used perfectly to accentuate the mood and you are pulled into the story line by the outstanding acting.

What was my favourite part? Probably the finale to the first half, which was the well known Defying Gravity number with both female leads singing their hearts out. I also really enjoyed the first number they performed together where they sang about loathing each other. One thing I'd never heard said about Wicked before is how funny it is, there is so much dry humour and Rachel Tucker as Elphaba delivers it perfectly.

I'd happily give this show and the theatre a 10/10, I really couldn't have been more happy with it. My husband said he'd give it a 7/10 but when I asked him what would make it a ten, he was hard-pushed to answer. He said some of the music wasn't his style and he struggled at the beginning to get into the show and really understand what was being said. He did say though that a couple of scenes really grabbed him, like the Defying Gravity one, the same one I liked best too and he also said how clever the story was put together in general.

If you visit the show and love it there are plenty of souvenirs that you can purchase with a programme selling at £8, a beanie hat for £12 and the original cast CD for £20.

Do I have any grumbles about the show or the theatre? Not massively, there were a couple of tiny hiccups were people's mics did not pick them up loud enough straight away but nothing that would have had me complaining. Oh and I was also super surprised that they let latecomers come in at 8pm. They had obviously held them back for a bit because I saw ushers bring about six sets of people into the stalls all at once. None in my row thankfully but I'd have been annoyed if I had to move. Surely everyone knows you don't arrive late for the theatre or you have to miss the first half?

One other thing to note, I would highly recommend the show for older children, ones who would get the message about not judging people by how they look. It's worth noting though that there were two bits that one of my 9 year old's probably would have found scary. I wouldn't let this stop her going but it would be good for her to be prepared. They are both in Oz with some angry monkeys and everything goes red and is very dramatic. 

All in all, an amazing show. Have a look at this and tell me you don't want to go! 

Have fun, Mich x

If you want to book then head to the website. I managed to book my tickets for a really decent price by using Get into London Theatre which has great cut price deals at off-peak times of the year.

Disclosure: There is none! I paid for our tickets but we had such a great time that I wanted to share. 

If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin