REVIEW Wicked Apollo Victoria Theatre West End 2019/2020 Cast…
There is nothing more exciting than seeing a show that you have visited 30+ times all over the world and raved about for more than a decade. WICKED has always been a 5* masterclass…including the UK Tour last year.
So, on a rainy Thursday in September I took the train to London for a flying visit to defy my ludicrous schedule to see the 2019/2020 cast of WICKED at the Apollo Victoria. I wanted to love this like before!
Read our review below or click here and watch via YouTube:
I sat in a packed house at the ridiculously palatial Apollo and couldn’t wait for the show to start. Then my heart sank. I endured the most lacklustre, screamy, stale, deafening and tired version of this magical production that I’ve ever seen.
Imagine the frustration and disappointment when half the principle cast are mates…
Let me be clear, this is still a beautifully decadent show dripping in Broadway scale, but, the sound was quite appalling and made a tough night a disaster.
I’ve never heard a more harsh, dry and loud mix of Wicked anywhere in the world….and I’ve seen it annually since opening night on Broadway both sides of the pond.
The cast are not bad….they’re just not special.
I felt nothing. The gags fell cold, the emotion was invisible and even the flying broom had a dangling wire for the children to laugh and point at around me. Unacceptable and ruined the whole scene for me.
Wicked is based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, a parallel novel of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
The key to this show’s success is the music. I didn’t feel immersed in the orchestra so the piece fell flat.
Schwartz has done a remarkable job making every note count.
The songs are undoubtedly iconic…and so loved yet tonight the orchestra sounded like they were punching through from the car park whilst Elphaba was singing full pelt in your ear hole. Insanity.
Regardless, the songs are beautifully written, moving, memorable & hugely melodic.
Enjoy an EXCLUSIVE in-depth interview with WICKED creator Stephen Schwartz recorded at his home in New York…
The sets and costumes are sensational. This will always provide spectacle at the very least.
Nikki Bentley sadly didn’t move me as Elphaba. I didn’t love her and I’m not sure why. For me you have to care about her more than anything else for the entire piece to have its deserved pathos and power. There’s no doubting Nikki has a powerful voice – the sound man couldn’t have made it louder for everyone to hear.
We adored Helen Woolf on the UK tour of Wicked, she was born to play Glinda. You completely believe the duplicity of her character. Adorably cute & cheeky.
Alistair Brammer is one of our favourite people and did a nice job as Fyero but didn’t shine. Having seen this world class talent shine in Miss Saigon on Broadway, it felt a bit like watching Gordon Ramsay offer to cook you dinner and you request an omlette. He’s a class act regardless.
Andy Hockley as the Wizzard was quite brilliant. Perfect casting.
Even the lighting tonight was clunky – something I’ve never noticed before. We could see Nikki getting on the ‘arm’ for Christ sake from centre stalls – come on! The rhythm of the piece felt off.
The orchestra is clearly huge but in the cavernous Apollo they might as well have been on track. Everything sounded like it was sived through a colander.
All of this makes me speechless as the UK Tour last year was faultless in energy, sound, light and polish.
It was a joy tonight to watch the formidable Kim Ismay as Madame Morrible who makes it look easy. Owning the role and driving what felt like a tired script at times.
Enjoy and exclusive interview with Kim Ismay via YouTube:
Even the ensemble tonight looked limp and somewhat swamped by the mammoth stage at the Apollo.
Currently the 15th longest running show in the West End theatre history – WICKED has been seen by over 53 million people in 16 countries, and won over 100 major awards.
Until tonight I felt it would play forever. Some how tonight the magic was gone.
I truly wanted to LOVE Wicked this evening. For the first time in history I didn’t make it past the deafening Defying Gravity.
Review by Alex Belfield for Celebrity Radio 26th September 2019.