By Neil Durham
WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHEN?: Saturday 19 February (matinee), booking to 27 November 2022
We’re here because Lucie Jones, 1 of the UK’s greatest musical theatre actresses and former Eurovision contestant, has been cast in a musical we haven’t seen since it opened in the West End way back when in 2006.
- Read on for reasons including how grown-up, political and subversive Wicked is
We don’t remember much of the show other than it was the 1st time we’d seen Idina Menzel as Elphaba and we loved her so much that we saw her again at the Royal Albert Hall in 2017.
Jones auditioned 11 times for this show and even we had doubts about her suitability for this dream role of hers which requires her to convince as an outsider, not a quality much in evidence of work we have seen of hers in Waitress and Rent.
We’re in row 3 of this cavernous 2,300-seater venue and boy does Jones convince. Elphaba may be green but the actress playing her needs to establish from the very beginning that she’s both young and naive but also angry at the injustices of the world, that she is in no way entitled yet she is in thrall to the Wizard of Oz who she believes to be all-seeing and all-caring.
More than 15 years on from our 1st viewing of Wicked and we’re marvelling at how grown-up, political and subversive it is.
If you don’t want to have your take on the beloved film The Wizard Of Oz starring Judy Garland, then this is not for you.
Wicked doesn’t require any knowledge of that film but, if you do, prepare to have your initial hot take on it challenged here.
For this is the backstory of the Wicked Witch of the West, Jones’ character Elphie, yet providing an alternative narrative which turns the film on its head.
Elphie studies alongside the shallow Glinda, popular in the word of 1 of the more memorable songs, yet struggling at the studies Elphie excels at.
We found there was much that was Trumpian about the charlatan that we discover the Wizard of Oz to be but also that his press secretary (Madame Morrible played by a memorable Sophie-Louise Dann) is expert at spinning the story that Elphie is the villain of the peace when she is actually challenging the subjugation of the animals in the kingdom of Oz.
Other themes that remain pertinent today include racial injustice and the need for radical action and protest.
Particularly moving is the transformation of the character Fiyero from someone with few cares at all to someone with a cause. Final song For Good reflects the changes that good deeds can bring about in other people.
Jones is a revelation and definitely deserves an audition for the Elphaba role in the much-planned film of the show.
We always knew Jones’ live voice was an absolute joy to behold and so it is here with the grandstanding of Act 1 closer Defying Gravity beautifully delivered despite being technically demanding.
If you’re thinking of seeing what all the fuss is about, do so now while Jones is in the lead role and absolutely excelling.
- Picture courtesy Wicked – the musical UK via Facebook Tickets
- Have you heard any of these songs or seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
- Enjoyed this review? Follow monstagigz on Twitter @NeilDurham, email firstname.lastname@example.org and check us out on Instagram and Facebook