Elphaba – Rachel Tucker
Glinda – Suzie Mathers
Fiyero – Oliver Savile
Madame Morrible – Anita Dobson
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Mark Curry
For a limited period of time, Wicked has assembled an all-star cast in celebration of its 10th anniversary on the West End. After playing Elphaba to great acclaim for over two and a half years on the West End and more recently on Broadway, Rachel Tucker has returned to the Apollo Victoria Theatre to reprise her role. Playing Glinda in her West End debut is Australian actress Suzie Mathers, who has performed internationally with the show. Anita Dobson, who is perhaps most well known for her role as Angie Watts in Eastenders, takes on the role of headmistress Madame Morrible, and Mark Curry performs the role of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Having already seen Wicked twice I was a little apprehensive as to whether this cast would live up to the expectations the previous cast had set. Until the beginning of this month, Wicked had starred Emma Hatton as Elphaba and Savannah Stevenson as Glinda, who I was lucky enough to see this time last year. They were both incredible and set my expectations extremely high. At the end of the first act of that performance I overheard another audience member commenting that Emma Hatton was better as Elphaba than Idina Menzel (who originated the role on Broadway and on the West End).
However, I had no reason to be worried, as the new cast absolutely blew me away. Rachel Tucker was without a doubt the best Elphaba I have ever seen. Her voice is so powerful and she makes belting out the final note of Defying Gravity look like the easiest thing in the world (and believe me it isn’t – I’ve tried!). I don’t think I quite understood how incredible her voice was until she came to the big notes in Elphaba’s three main songs; The Wizard and I, Defying Gravity and No Good Deed. The applause she received for these songs was louder and longer than that of any other song.
Suzie Mathers stunned as Glinda, making her first appearance in the famous bubble dress and instantly proving her vocal abilities in No One Mourns the Wicked. Her rendition of Popular is charming and hilarious, and not too dissimilar from Megan Hilty’s Broadway performance in 2008. Her comic timing is excellent, with many of the laughs coming from her interpretation of Glinda’s lines.
Anita Dobson’s Madame Morrible was enchanting, despite her playing the main villain of the show. From her first entrance to the stage it is impossible to take your eyes off her. No one can deny the command she has over the audience. Although Madame Morrible doesn’t have even one song to herself, Anita Dobson’s voice cannot be overlooked. Her strong vocals are perfect for the parts Madame Morrible does have in The Wizard and I, and Thank Goodness. She also has many comic lines, which she delivers perfectly.
Seeing Wicked from the front row for the first time was an incredible experience. Actually it was the first time I’ve seen any show from the front row. It definitely has the perk of not having someone very tall or with big hair sitting in front of you and blocking your view. Being able to watch Defying Gravity from the front row was a particular highlight. Despite that being the third time I have seen the show, that song never loses its magic. Especially with the vocal talents of Rachel Tucker. In fact, it was probably the best rendition of the song I have ever seen. Watching her rise to the top of the stage on her broom sent shivers all over my body and brought me to tears. My favourite moment in the show is very near the end, when Elphaba and Glinda sing For Good. It has made me cry every single time I have seen it performed and it contrasts beautifully with the other songs throughout the show. It almost brings the show to a halt as the two main characters realise they will never see each other again.
The costumes, makeup and special effects used in the show make it spectacular to watch. The costumes are so colourful and do an incredible job of reflecting the personalities of the characters. I think one of the things I love most about Wicked is that there is not one component that is less impressive than the others. The cast, the costumes, and the songs are all perfect. Without one, no matter which, the show would not be what it is. Everything fits together immaculately and creates an incredibly memorable show. There is definitely a reason it is celebrating ten years on the West End.
Wicked is currently booking at the Apollo Victoria Theatre until 4th November 2017, with a special 10th birthday performance on 27th September. Rachel Tucker and Anita Dobson are performing until 28th January 2017.