Wicked At The Apollo Victoria Theatre 2019: Review

It’s hard to believe that 13 years ago when Wicked first landed on the West End, it was subject to a number of bad reviews. Now admired by many as a West End classic and a staple of the London theatre scene, Wicked continues to renew its contract in the Apollo Victoria theatre and wow audiences forever more (or at least until May 2020…)

Outside of Apollo Victoria Theatre London with large green sparkly sign saying 'Wicked'

If you happen to be new to musical theatre, or have lived under a rock for the last 13 years, Wicked is a reimagining of the beloved characters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and reveals the decisions and events that shape the destinies of two unlikely University friends on their journey to becoming Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West. Think of it as a sort of prequel to the well-known Dorothy story, but less twee.

Having seen Wicked previously when it toured the UK, it’s tough to view this set-in-stone production with fresh – and equally judgemental – eyes. It’s so easy to get sucked into the magic and it also doesn’t help that the entire production screams five stars, from the set design to the costumes right through to the dressing of the theatre itself. I took my boyfriend with me who had never seen the show before (yes, they still exist) to ensure this wonderful show hadn’t lost its magic….

Everyone deserves the chance to fly

I have to say I enjoyed my return trip to Oz, mainly because of the sensational performance of Laura Pick as Elphaba. Laura is the standby for Alice Fearn, who I believe was off getting married when we went to the show. Whilst this night was not Laura’s first performance, this run in Wicked does mark her West End debut, and boy does she know how to make an entrance! There’s no pressure quite like starring as Elphaba in Wicked. The part is not only coveted but brazenly anticipated, judged and worshipped. Idina Menzel, who originated the role on Broadway back in 2003, set the bar incredibly high for how Elphaba could be portrayed and also set her career into defying gravity territory as well (I had to get a pun in there somewhere, sorry). For me, Laura Pick is everything Elphaba should be and coupled with the sickly sweet Glinda played by Sophie Evans, the pair soar through the score effortlessly, with ‘For Good’ naturally making me tear up as usual.

Sophie Evans does deserve a mention of her own here too. I think a lot of emphases is placed on the casting of Elphaba and Glinda is usually a second thought – but the almost operatic high notes that Evans has to hit night after night, show after show really is something. She nailed the perfect princess attitude of Act One Glinda, but with enough emotion and vulnerability that you just had to fall in love with her.

Wicked straddles the threshold of so many genres that it can be hard to describe it to someone who hasn’t seen it or listened to the soundtrack. The score flits between rock, ballad and light opera all laced through with that mystical Schwartz melody to create something truly magical and unlike any other musical I’ve ever seen or heard. You can listen to the soundtrack alone and be transported to the Emerald City almost immediately. However, it’s the live vocals which keep audiences hooked night after night. Harmonies are layered artistically and belted loudly while ribbons twirl, exotic costumes glint and a dragon shakes his head and puffs smoke above your head. When it all comes together, it’s really quite a spectacle.

Image showing the cover of the programme for Wicked in front of Wicked set, including dragon suspended in the air

I don’t really have much to critique about Wicked to be honest, which is why it will always be one of my favourite musicals but one thing I will say is that the female roles are played by only the most elite women UK musical theatre has to offer, and yet their male co-stars are always, well, underwhelming….

It sounds harsh I know, but both on the tour run last year and in this production, I felt the male vocal just didn’t match up to the power of Elphaba and Glinda. Unfortunately for David Witts, who was playing Fiyero, he was simply out-performed by Laura Evans in ‘As Long As You’re Mine’. At times it did sound like perhaps he was really struggling to get the notes out and in that song in particular, it was a shame to hear him struggling.

Overall, I think Wicked will always hold a special place in my heart and this performance did it justice. Despite not being too keen on Fiyero’s character, I loved the current cast and the little quirks and personal touches they all brought to the roles. There’s a reason why Wicked continues to draw in sell-out audiences – it’s pure magic, spectacle and wonder!

Find tickets for Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre or check out my other theatre reviews!

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  1. Elin says

    I saw Wicked for the first time last August and I was absolutely blown away, everything about it was just magical and this review has definitely done it justice! I definitely want to see it again at some point. This was so beautifully written Abi, loved reading as always x

  2. Hollie says

    Love love LOVE Wicked! Took my son to see it 5 years ago and he was mesmerised from start to finish!

  3. Kat says

    I love musicals. They are my favourite thing to watch. My Spotify playlist is pretty much filled up with broadway musical classics. I haven’t seen Wicked live yet, but I really want to! I love the songs. Especially Defying Gravity. This is a really great review – that’s really interesting about the male vocals.

  4. Jenny says

    I need to learn more about the casting of this show – I saw it and lovedddd it but no idea who was playing anyone when I went! I’d love to see it again!

  5. Lisa says

    I would LOVE to see Wicked but London is just too far away from me, I couldn’t justify the cost or time out, sadly. I’ll have to wait for it to come around on tour again. Sounds like you had a wonderful time, I’m very envious! Lisa x

  6. Hannah says

    Sounds like you had a great time! I’m not a fan of musicals but I can really appreciate the talent that goes into them, so it must be amazing when they really pull it off. Love the story of The Wizard of Oz too so this is probably one I’d enjoy more than others.

  7. Nele says

    Can’t believe it’s been 13 years since it first was shown omg! I’m old hahah! Wicked is actually the only musical I’ve ever seen and I really, really enjoyed it.

  8. Karalee says

    I saw Wicked YEARS ago with my parents in the US & I loved it! The cast, set, songs, everything was amazing!
    It’s good to know that after all these years Wicked is still going strong!

    Tales of Belle

  9. Kayleigh Zara says

    I’ve seen wicked a few times at the victoria Apollo! It is my absolute favourite and I enjoyed it so much, and I totally agree with you the male vocals are sometimes underwhelming to the female vocals because they’re literally the best of the best female vocals I’ve ever heard! X

    Kayleigh Zara 🌿 http://www.kayleighzaraa.com

    • whatabigailsays says

      Yeah he was still good but he was just drowned out by Elphaba! But Wicked is always so good and will definitely be up there with one of the best shows ever for me! X

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