The play in which I have chosen to review is a musical named Wicked which I went to see in London at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London’s westend. The musical is new and is based on the bestselling novel ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ by Gregory Maguire. The novel is based on the 1939 film of L. Frank Baum’s classic story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the novel is from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz. The main writer for the musical Wicked is a very talented man named Stephen Schwartz who discovered the novel in 1995Order now
Elphaba (The future Wicked Witch of the West) is born green and shunned from society. She meets the ever-popular and pink Glinda (The Good Witch of the North) at college. Elphaba has a knack for magic, so the headmistress of the college sends her and Glinda to the Emerald City to help the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. However, the wizard is not so wonderful and is segregating the talking animals in Oz from the rest of society. Elphaba is enraged because she can identify with the animals–so she speaks out against the wizard and defies him. Glinda remains “good” because she doesn’t have the courage to defy the wizard. Elphaba is “good” just thought of as “wicked” because of propaganda from the wizard. In the end, Elphaba escapes…she isn’t actually melted, but Glinda has been affected and becomes a less shallow and better person.
Visual elements are vital for a musical but with Wicked they have to be that something special as they are bettering a timeless classic movie. The set in the show secures the locations while on stage as there is a lot of different settings, it also shows the links from Wicked and The Wizard Of Oz e.g. Emerald City. From the moment the curtains were opened and the bubbles flew delicately over the pristine stage I knew that Wicked was going to be a beautiful visual show. I thought the set worked brilliantly, everywhere on stage held the element of magic needed and the flawless design worked perfectly with the lighting. The colour scheme was often green as the musical is situated in the fictional world of Oz, having a simple colour scheme made the set look amazing with the matching lights which were often lit up in the arch above the stage. The set created powerful images especially for the main song ‘Defying Gravity’.
The lighting for the show was well thought out and helped create a lot of different emotions. The bright lights in Emerald City were perfect to help create the excitement and curiosity just like in the Wizard Of Oz. But then the spot lights and dim lighting used when Elphaba and Glinda are saying goodbye helps create the teary eyes in the audience. Throughout the emotion rollercoaster that this musical brings, the sense of magic is never forgotten through all the twinkles which are apparent all during the show.
The use of props in the show isn’t extensive but this works well as the show is more physical and storytelling. The witches hat which Glinda gives Elphaba early on in the story is used for dramatic irony as the audience can see Elphaba is going to become a wicked witch. This prop becomes part of her costume. Other props like books are used during Wicked to show where characters are, books represented school. Glinda’s magic wand is obviously used to help build her character and keep the magic element in the show.
Costumes in Wicked are very visual as it is a magical story and is based on a quirky tale of the Wizard Of Oz. They are well thought out in order to gain visual perfection but a good meaning also. Glinda’s first costume is a big princess style dress, she wears this when she is most powerful, throughout the show the more powerful Glinda gets the bigger her costumes get. Elphaba’s costumes are always dark, usually black. This could show that she is a shy character and doesn’t want to be noticed, also black symbolises death which could also imply the negative ending of the story. The hat is a vital part of the costume as it sends the strong message of becoming a Witch.
The use of stage space is important as the show has a lot of different settings and a lot of different characters. The way the stage was used created powerful images for all the songs in the show however one was the most powerful. ‘Defying Gravity’ used not only the stage but Elphaba is carried above the stage with other characters below her. I believe the way in which the characters used the set was brilliant as there wasn’t a part of the stage that didn’t hold the magic of the show.
Music in this show was obviously the most important factor as it is a musical, the songs in the show were mainly narration and explanation of emotions. Music is a good way of creating atmospheres and emotions throughout any show. The songs which I feel held most emotion were ‘Defying Gravity’ and ‘For Good’. This is because they are both about changes in the characters. There wasn’t many sound effects used during the show, there was simple ones like a knock at the door. There was certain sounds when a character entered the scene for example Glinda enters the scene there is a magical noise.
The key moments in the performance are also the ones which hold the greatest atmosphere and emotion. The opening of the play is key as it is setting the scene and reminiscing, giving the audience a taster to what has happened. Then during the show the key parts have to be the powerful and meaningful songs ‘Defying Gravity’ and ‘For Good’. Defying Gravity is key because it is Elphaba changing and telling everyone she is flying away, it is when she changed to the Wicked Witch. For Good is key as it is whe Glinda and Elphaba the two good friends say goodbye forever.
Idina Menzel who played Elphaba had to be my favourite actress in the show, she held great emotion throughout the show and gave the character great characteristics. Idina’s strong voice was a quirky twist on a shy character and I loved the way Idina portrayed Elphaba. She contrasted from being shy to very powerful and intelligent. With the art deco glamour of the Emerald City, flying monkeys, levitating witches, brilliant one-liners, a touch of romance and the odd tear jerker. Wicked is sure to bring magic to anyone who watches it.