GET READY TO START ‘DEFYING GRAVITY’ AS WICKED FLIES INTO THE BRISTOL HIPPODROME
The Bristol Hippodrome
Wed 18th February – Sat 21st March 2015
Wicked Family Review
WICKED, which tells the untold story of the Witches of Oz, flew into The Bristol Hippodrome this Wednesday (18 February 2015) where it will remain for 5 weeks. A green carpet welcomed our family into the press night the following evening and there was a palpable buzz as everyone took their seats.
Wicked is based on Gregory Maguire’s novel ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ which was inspired by the characters and stories created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ back in 1900.
The premise of Wicked is that you’ve not been told the whole story in the Wizard of Oz. When Dorothy famously triumphed over the Wicked Witch, we only heard her side. Wicked the musical creates a parallel universe to the famous Wizard of Oz story, fashioning a captivating adventure that finds familiar characters in surprising and unexpected new circumstances.
The story tells of an unlikely but profound friendship between two very different individuals who first meet as sorcery students at Shiz University: the blonde and very popular Glinda and a misunderstood green girl named Elphaba. Following an encounter with The Wizard, their friendship reaches a crossroads and their lives take very different paths.
Glinda’s unflinching desire for popularity sees her seduced by power while Elphaba’s determination to remain true to herself and to those around her will have unexpected and shocking consequences for her future. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.
SET, SPECIAL EFFECTS & MAGIC!
The set is effective yet pleasingly unobtrusive. The numerous set changes are handled smoothly with different lighting styles and colours to guide us through mood and scene changes. At times the stage is so clear it looks enormous, at others it’s full of props like the dorm room scene. (How many pairs of high heels could a pretty, shallow and popular student need? Quite a few, evidently!). Oh and theres a lot of atmospheric dry ice!
Our first sight of “Galinda” in her sparkly princess dress, standing aloft inside a giant elevated pendulum in front of a massive clock backdrop, hints at the wonderful pantomime to come. The mass of bubbles accompanying this good witch suggest that Wicked isn’t going take itself too seriously.
Awesome ‘magic’ tricks and special effects include a wheelchair with a mind of its own, supernatural weather changes, a giant animatronic dragon and of course the powerful ‘wizard’ himself.
Someone’s had a lot of fun designing these costumes. From Glinda’s fairy princess sparkly gowns through Madam Morrible’s impressive bustle to the fancy, frilly and glitzy green creations adorning the Emerald City inhabitants, the costumes are quite a spectacle.
SOME IMPRESSIVE STATISTICS
Wicked has been seen by 45 million people in 13 countries and won 100 international awards including 3 Tony® Awards on Broadway, the GRAMMY® for ‘Best Musical Theatre Album’ and the UK’s prestigious Olivier Award for ‘Most Popular Show’.
The UK & Ireland Tour has already sold over 1 million tickets since its premiere in 2013 at the Palace Theatre in Manchester and played over 500 performances.
The original Broadway production remains “Broadway’s biggest blockbuster” (The New York Times) after more than 11 years at the Gershwin Theatre.
The original West End production continues its open-ended run at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre where it recently played its landmark 3500th performance. Now in its 9th year, it has been seen by over 6 million people since its London premiere and is now the 10th longest-running show in the West End.
CAST & CREDITS
Wicked stars Ashleigh Gray (Elphaba), Emily Tierney (Glinda), Samuel Edwards (Fiyero), Marilyn Cutts(Madame Morrible), Steven Pinder (The Wizard and Doctor Dillamond), Carina Gillespie (Nessarose), Richard Vincent (Boq) and Jacqueline Hughes (Standby for Elphaba).
Wicked has music and lyrics by multi GRAMMY® and Academy Award® winner Stephen Schwartz, a book by Winnie Holzman, musical staging by Wayne Cilento, is directed by two-time Tony Award® winner and Olivier Award nominee Joe Mantello and produced by: Marc Platt, Universal Stage Productions, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and David Stone. Executive Producer (UK): Michael McCabe. Wicked is based on the novel ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ by Gregory Maguire.
I found the mechanical wizard and loud, booming audio effects slightly terrifying. My 11 and 8 year old boys are obviously much ‘arder than me though and didn’t bat an eyelid: in fact they really enjoyed the show.
We all agreed that my youngest and slightly more timid son would have found parts of the show pretty scary. I’m almost certain that, had I taken my 6 year old, I’d have ended up with a nocturnal visitor complaining of bad dreams involving noisy wizards and giant dragons with red eyes!
Obviously it depends on your own child but we think this is suitable for ages 8+.
Ashleigh Gray (Elphaba) and Emily Tierney (Glinda) are absolute stars and play their roles beautifully. I tried to learn the song “For Good” recently so I have an idea of the wide vocal range both their parts require and they rose to the challenge admirably.
Overall we preferred the first act to the second – perhaps because it featured more familiar, fun and upbeat songs (and this is the first time we’ve seen Wicked).
Emily Tierney’s rendition of the song “Popular” was hilarious. I could barely hear some of the lyrics as the people behind us were laughing so loud. In fact Emily’s representation of a self-absorbed, apparently ditzy blonde throughout was superb. The well known song “Defying Gravity” was a great end to act one.
The storyline is interesting and not just a flimsy excuse for singing lots of pretty songs. Without giving anything away if you’re not familiar with the plot, I like the fact that I don’t feel like I’ve just watched another oh so obvious hollywood ending.
Every aspect of this great show is professional and well executed. Emily and Ashleigh’s acting and singing are fab and the audience showed its approval with a standing ovation as soon as they came on to take their bows.
Official UK website: www.WickedTheMusical.co.uk
BRISTOL ENGAGEMENT: WEDNESDAY 18 FEBRUARY TO SATURDAY 21 MARCH 2015
Best ticket availability currently at Monday to Wednesday performances, including midweek matinees, and at the extra matinee shows on 5 March and 19 March, at 2.30pm
BOOKING AS FOLLOWS:
IN PERSON: AT THE BRISTOL HIPPODROME BOX OFFICE
TELEPHONE BOOKINGS: 0844 871 3012
GROUPS OF 10+ 0844 871 3032 (Mon-Fri, 10.00am-6pm)
Monday – Saturday 7.30pm, Matinees Wednesday & Saturday 2.30pm.
Ticket Prices £20.00 – £75.00
DISCLOSURE: WE RECEIVED TICKETS FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY/OUR OWN.