Everyone has heard of Wicked, theatre fan or not. After opening at the Apollo theatre in 2006, Wicked has been seen by more than seven million people on the West End alone. When a show has been running for over a decade, it’s a miracle that there is anything left to talk about. However, over the summer the production underwent a complete cast change, inviting a new leading lady to start painting on the green skin for a chance to play one of the most iconic roles on the West End.
Alice Fearn gives a powerful and emotionally charged performance as Elphaba. Originally joining the production as the Elphaba standby, it’s clear she knows the role inside and out. She is charming, funny and her vocal ability alone is a good enough reason to see the show. She embodies the strength and the vulnerability of the character so beautifully, fully immersing herself into a role that has been played by so many others, yet one which she has undoubtedly made her own. In such a whirlwind of a production, she provides an emotional centre to the show.
Sophie Evans is also delightful as Glinda, playing the bubbly and bright ‘good witch’ with ease. She keeps the audience laughing, with sharp and hilarious remarks that roll off her tongue. Yet, her talent is not confined to the role of the exuberant blonde. There is a noticeable depth and complexity to the character, and as the show progresses your love for her continues to grow. Evans’ performance is heartfelt, in one moment she is playing up to the unapologetic girlishness of the character, and in the next she delivers a truly touching ,and almost tearful, rendition of ‘For Good’.
Bradley Jaden’s Fiyero bounds onstage during ‘Dancing through life’ sporting new shoulder-length hair, a change from Fiyero’s original ‘disney prince’ style, full of a mischievous energy and an almost irritating charm. He is a fantastic dancer, confident in his abilities, and never missing a beat throughout. He naturally embraces the swagger and carefree attitude of the boyish prince, with a slightly more rebellious streak than we have seen in previous portrayals. Jaden and Fearn also have undeniable chemistry onstage, their moments of intimacy feel genuine and never forced-for a moment you believe that they are truly alone together.
Wicked is a musical that pays astounding attention to detail. Choreography, sets, costumes, brilliant voices and touching performances- just one of these elements can sell a show, yet somehow Wicked seamlessly throws everything on stage. The first act felt slightly slow to start, however a few notes into Fearn’s rendition of ‘The Wizard and I’ and the audience was beaming.
Alongside this, Wicked is wonderfully orchestrated. Stephen Swartz’s captivating score perfectly complements the tone of such a stylish and contemporary production. The production design and scenic designer is often overlooked when it comes to celebrating the show’s success, yet they are such an integral part of the production. Eugene Lee’s original design never fails to impress, the elaborate sets are adorned with so many moving parts it’s impossible to keep track.
The high energy and sheer joy that is delivered in just one evening is the reason why this production is still running, and that audiences still flock to see it. It is a hard show to dislike, and this year’s new cast and ensemble are not only a joy to listen to, but they absolutely excel at providing pure West End entertainment.
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Reviewed by Olivia Mackrill