March 26, 2012

GUEST BLOGGER- Wicked London

Apollo Victoria Theatre

My name is Heather, and I have been given the pleasure of being asked to write about a special vacation(that had theatre involved in it!) that I was able to go on recently.

My brother had given my mom a trip to London (and Paris!) for Christmas. They asked if I wanted to come along. Well, who would say no to that! I managed to get time off from work and off we went!

One of the things we planned was to take in one of the fabulous London West End theatre productions. We decided Wicked was the Winner!

We had looked into several deals and offers, including dinner and a ticket for 65 pounds, but nothing worked out. We left for London without tickets. On January 27, 2012, the day we were looking for tickets for the show, we went to a travel agency who claimed the best they could offer us was 72 pounds--a person. I had the idea of trying to rush the show, so we headed over to the beautiful Apollo Victoria Theatre. Luck was on our side, as we were able to score tickets in the orchestra seats, or "stalls," as they called them…..for THIRTY TWO pounds each!! That was a steal! We were 12 rows from the front! Excited, we headed out to explore the rest of London before the 7:00 evening performance.

We arrive at the theatre early, and it is already swarming with people!! They don't line up neatly on the streets like in NYC, they just kind of go in through any open door. Once they scan your ticket and point you in the direction you need, you are left to your own devices. No one takes your ticket and leads you to your seat. You are expected to find your seat yourself. Another thing they do, is not give you a Playbill. It took me until intermission to realize you had to buy the Playbill. It comes in what we know as a program, and they charge 7 pounds for it. Of course, I bought one, so it's an ingenious way to make a few extra bucks.  Hope they don't decide to adopt that policy in America, though! Getting a Playbill(for free!) is sometimes the perfect souvenir from a memorable show! Also, in America, ushers tend to monitor the audience a bit closer, being spread around the theatre. There were hardly any ushers to be found in London.  The last thing that I noticed as a difference, the day after the show I decided I wanted a Wicked charm bracelet from the Theatre, so I walked back to the theatre and told one of the ticket scanners I was just buying a bracelet. He let me through the doors without a second thought! I don't think that would have happened in America. If you don't have a ticket, you don't get into the theatre. Now, I am not the kind of person who would see a show dishonestly and sneakily, but I am sure other people are!

Now it is time for the show!

Glinda-Gina Beck
Witch's Father: Kieran Brown
Witch's Mother: Bonnie Parker
Midwife: Aileen Donohoe
Elphaba: Rachel Tucker
Nessarose: Lillie Flynn
Boq-Adam Pettigrew
Madame Morrible: Julie Legrand
Doctor Dillamond: Christopher Howell
Fiyero: Matt Willis
Wizard: Desmond Barrit
Chistery: Paulo Teixeira

I don't think I need a synopsis, as this is a well-known and loved show, but summing it up quickly, this is the story of Glinda and Elphaba(aka the Wicked Witch of the West) in college, where they develop an unusual friendship.  In other words, a prequel to the well known and well loved Wizard of Oz.

The show begins, and we have a perfect view! I have only seen Wicked on tour, and this performance made me fall in love with Wicked all over again! There were much more special effects, and more of the Time Dragon Clock! The Time Dragon Clock was different from the Time Dragon Clock I have seen on tour and at the Gershwin Theatre in NYC(I have done a Behind the Emerald Curtain tour at the Gershwin).  The costumes seemed to be more elaborate in London, as well.  I was very impressed with the sets, props, and costumes.

The theatre itself was an older theatre, but very well maintained. It was immaculate. The seats were a bit worn but comfortable! But my favorite thing was of course, the talent of the cast!
Elphaba was played by the AMAZING Rachel Tucker! She was a powerhouse! Her vocal ability was simply amazing! Gina Beck, as Glinda, had a wonderful voice, too! They blended very well together on the harmonies. They had a real stage presence and fed off each other impeccably. Matt Willis played the adorably charming Fiyero, the handsome, rebellious schoolboy that both Elphaba and Glinda have set their sights on, was perfectly cast for the role. His voice was fantastic! Julie Legrand was fantastic as Madame Morrible, with the perfect amount of evil. Desmond Barrit had a lovely voice, and was a fantastic Wizard! As far as Lillie Flynn and Adam Pettigrew, they were an excellent casting for Nessarose and Boq. The whole show was outstanding, with no glitches and a sparkling, flawless performance. I was very pleased, and felt very fortunate to be able to snag tickets(for much cheaper than I would have in NYC without winning lottery!) to this performance of Wicked! Especially since shortly after I got tickets, the show sold out!

I also noticed the cast has performed a lot in different shows, but almost everyone had exclusively performed in England. I think if they came to shows in America, people would love any of them. I know I would go to see them, and enjoy any performance I was able to see them in!

Their English accents were also nice to hear during the show. I get so used to American actors, and it was pretty neat to hear the British during this show.

I did not stage door after this production. I was not sure if that was a custom in London.

In conclusion, if you are ever in London, DO NOT miss the opportunity to take in a West End production! I know you would not be disappointed, and the ticket prices are pretty reasonable!

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