The day before I went away on holiday, I was lucky enough to invited along to see Wicked the Musical on tour at the Sunderland Empire. This post is long over due but because of my trip (and lack of substantial wifi) then insane jetlag I really haven’t felt like blogging but the musical was phenomenal it still deserved a post.
This was my third time seeing Wicked, the first two times were at London in the musicals home theatre, Apollo Victoria. If I’m honest I wasn’t expecting the full stage set as I know from seeing other musicals on tour it can’t be a lot of work moving it around the country, so I was incredibly excited to enter Sunderland Empire to see the Time Dragon sat proudly above the stage. Wicked is without a doubt my favourite musical and seeing it again so recently just reminded me why.
Based on the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, Wicked is a closer look at the life of the Wicked Witch of the West, her beginnings and how she became, well wicked. Now carrying the name Elphaba, the opening number “No One Mourns the Wicked” suggests at how she ended up green. Then narrated by Glinda the Good, her years at school are explored. I have always identified with Elphaba as she is the epitome of a social outcast. Her green skin making her different but through her friendship with Glinda she is slowly accepted.
Although the book explores themes of good vs evil, animal exploitation and rights, racism, religion and fate vs free will. The musical isn’t as deep and although each theme is touched on, it is made so it can be enjoyed by all the family. If you look closely enough you can still see aspects of the original text, but the ending is completely changed. Even though I am a fan of the book, unlike other adaptations I can fully enjoy the musical. In fact, in someways I enjoy the musical more.
Anyway, this particular production of the musical had a truly wonderful cast. In fact, I saw Ashleigh Gray as Elphaba 6 years ago when she was the understudy to the role, however the night I saw the musical she was taking the lead. I thought she was unbelievable then but now she was just as breath taking to listen to as Idina Menzel (who is the original broadway Elphaba). Hearing Ashleigh Gray sing “Defying Gravity” again brought tears to myself and my cold hearted sister, she was that amazing. The supporting cast was just as great and really did the musical justice. I definitely had a soft spot for Samuel Edwards as Fiyero.
Defying Gravity still stands today as one of my favourite songs ever, but I also adore For Good and As Long as Your Mine and to me, it’s still the fantastic musical numbers that really make this worth going to see. The stage and set changes are awe inspiring too, throw that with a great story and a fantastic cast and you have yourself a truly magical night at the theatre.
Wicked is only running at Sunderland Empire until Saturday (25th April) before continuing on the rest of the UK tour hurry up and grab a ticket for one of the last few nights.