Re-review – Wicked

Tuesday 27 February 2007

Wicked maskWho says whinging pays?

West End Whingers haven’t the strength of character to believe in second chances. So imagine their horror, having whinged at length to the producers of Wicked about poor sight-lines from their top price stalls seats (let alone the show itself), to find themselves invited to revisit this terrible show. Presumably the producers thought they were doing the Whingers a favour?

For most theatregoers it is enough to see a production once; for us it’s often more than enough. But WEW put aside thoughts of settling down to watch Oscar highlights or de-fleaing the cats and hopped on their broomsticks to the Apollo Theatre Victoria for a second dose of overblown, underwritten claptrap. With an open mind, obviously.

Although we are fans of Miriam Margolyes (wasted here) we were disappointed that the producers didn’t see fit to extend the ticket offer to April when the fabulous Susie Blake takes over the role of Madame Morrible. And since Idina Menzel – the only reason to sit through this tortuous evening – has been replaced, it seemed the only thing of interest would be to see if her replacement Kerry Ellis’ green make up would cover more visible skin than her predecessor.

Our opinions on this show have already been well documented, so here’s a brief rundown of our fresh perspective:

  • While having seats with decent sight-lines makes a huge difference to the amount you can see, it doesn’t make it a better show.
  • The auditorium was distinctly not full. The Wicked phenomenon is clearly not an enduring one.
  • The horribly rock-oriented score doesn’t get any more interesting for hearing it again. But at least it drowns out many of the sub-Sondheim lyrics.
  • The lyrics are pedestrian at best (“enough to give pause to anything with paws”); it was probably a blessing that we couldn’t make them out when more than one person was singing at any one time (or at all in some cases).
  • The humour is still really lame (“It seems the artichoke is steamed!”). We only really laughed when the audience clapped on the green woman’s entrance, presumably under the impression they were watching Idina Menzel.
  • Nigel Planer as the Wizard clearly thinks he’s still performing Mr. Cellophane in Chicago.
  • Designer Eugene Lee repeats the half curtain silhouette idea (for the melting scene) he previously employed in the original production of Sweeney Todd. Yes Phil really is that old.

Defy Gravity Glitter GlobeBut to the important stuff: the number of bar staff were heavily outnumbered by the people staffing the stalls selling crap souvenirs. We were particularly fascinated by the Defy Gravity Glitter Globe* (pictured) at £38 (£43 online). The nice lady charged with peddling the merchandise assured us that it was mostly bought by people who’ve seen the show about 8,000 times but she had sold one that evening. Still, she was by no means overworked, unlike the poor barman six feet away from her. The bar was so busy that we were nearly faced with the choice of getting more wine or seeing the second act. You know what the outcome of that dilemma would have been.

* Someone is already trying to flog one on Ebay (starting bids $120). Don’t tell Andrew but Phil has solved an upcoming birthday present problem.


18 Responses to “Re-review – Wicked”

  1. […] gone, the new cast is in, I’ve overlistened to the soundtrack, and I’ve been reading these guys too much! So, I’ll certainly be going in with a critical eye, and whereas first time round I […]

  2. Well, I finally saw the London version of the show and can tell you that it pales in comparison to the original Broadway version. It’s the first time I’ve walked away wondering about its future as a global franchise. You’ll find my review of my London experience posted on my site.

  3. william Says:

    I have been reading a few of your reviews. And i have come to think that you guys are extreamly negative, i have not read a single positive review that you have written.
    And i regret to tell you that you are wrong about wicked, as you are the first online review that has been bad! and thats sayinf something.
    I can tell also from your review that you ahve tried to be funny, and failed miserably, as you said about wicked. I think you people have a poor out look on life and instead of looking at the negative side of things, should try to pick good things out! (and there are many in wicked)
    Please dont bad mouth wicked, i love it to bits, im sorry it didnt appeal to you, or are you just trying to get laughs? i dont know its very confusing!
    Thankyou for your time.

  4. Nicki Says:

    For your records, Wicked is playing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. A play called Glengarry Glen Ross is at the Apollo Theatre at Shaftesbury Avenue. Thst is a difference that most theatregoers should know.

  5. Webcowgirl Says:

    I’m curious about what Nicki’s point is, since you clearly stated that it’s at the Apollo Victoria Theater? I can only guess that she works for the company and is trying to improve their search rankings?

    BTW thanks for confirming my choice not to see the show – someone lent me the soundtrack and that was enough to keep me far, far away, no matter how much my theater newb girlfriends witter on about how brilliant it is.

  6. Nicki Says:

    Haha, i wish i worked for the company. I just believe if you are going to talk about a show, you should at least know what theatre it is in. Otherwise these West End Whingers maybe aren’t up to the job of actually reviewing shows. Who knows, maybe when Wicked closes and they go to see the new show they will end up at the wrong theatre. I am not trying to publicise Wicked, and i believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it doesn bug me when theatres are named incorrectly or in some cases (not on here…) the wrong theatre is named.

  7. Kieron Says:

    have the whingers consider doing a re-re-review of wicked?? most of the original cast has gone and the spell binding kerry ellis has taken over from idina??? go on i dare you too!!!!!

  8. Yes, but have they got rid of the original songs too? If not, I’m afraid the answer is no.

  9. Ben Says:

    I went see this last night and have to say it’s the worst West End musical I have ever seen!

  10. Phaeton Says:

    The soundtrack is pervasively, darkly addictive – but then I have to get up at 6am so my brain is clearly more impressionable than the Whingers. I went to see it with my boyfriend, really enjoyed it – me rather than he – and sent my parents along to see it.

    Horror # 1 – They walked out at the interval. My family hasn’t done that since the Iceman Cometh debacle of 98.

    #2 – It was my mother’s birthday and they paid loads for the seats. I ruined my mother’s birthday.

    The only good thing about it was that a boy from my class at school was playing Boq. Sadly my parents didn’t stay long enough to see him do anything very interesting.

  11. Phaeton, you really should have considered taking them to Zorro over at the Garrick!

  12. SuzieBee Says:

    I went to see Wicked last night. Although I agree that the soundtrack was rubbish, I disagree that it was a bad show overall. Not gobsmackingly amazing like some things I’ve seen, but worth a visit if you like that sort of thing.

    I’ve actually blogged about it, here: You’ll have to scroll down a bit.

    I do, however, agree absolutely about the ridiculous programme. They should do what they do at Phantom and have an ordinary programme (with cast lists and song titles and information about the show) and a “souvenir programme” (pretty pictures and not much else). If they’re lucky, some gullible twit will buy both (I did at Phantom! :D).

  13. John Says:

    I have to say, your review was very, very misleading. >.<

    I went to see Wicked on September of 2008 in Pittsburgh in the USA! Whatever the West End production is like, I highly doubt it should be taken as what the musical is like everywhere else. The cast I saw, all with prior experience in several shows, was wonderful, no horrid talent, and I found that a majority of the songs were very touching, and no one said that the lyrics had to be the best for it to be a good musical either. I believe that reading the book before seeing the musical made it a much more enjoyable experience as well, and the theatre was packed full, so clearly Wicked mania just hasn’t hit West End (yet). And the modern music, which is very complex and more modern than some big hit musicals, was refreshing, and knowing the book it felt very right and fitting. Overall, I think it was better and not as bad as you made it out to be.

  14. Fraser Says:

    I saw it yesterday-and whilst it is not a total disaster, it is incredibly badly directed. I wanted to stand up and scream “STOP MOVING!” to the chorus and the lights. I also think the sound engineer needs a firm smack on his botty-I could barely hear what Galinda?Glinda?Legally Blonde Witch person was saying.
    Schwartz is no Sondheim. But nor is Kandi Stanton/Gloria Gaynor/Kylie and Priscilla is a grrrreat show.

  15. casay Says:

    your a bunch of self center has beens you know that!??!

    this show happens to be absolutely AMAZING show!(even on a bad night)!

    your just jealous that you dont have the talent that the cast and creators of Wicked have!

  16. Pazuzu Says:

    Casay, get a life, some people don’t like what you like. Get over it.

    I feel that some people who are commenting defending Wicked are the ones who have seen it around 8’000 times. I used to love it, but I slowly realised what rubbish it is. It’s just Hairspray but green. Far too happy and sparkly. It’s the West-End equivalent of Edward Cullen. Sparkly and useless.

  17. Carolyn Says:

    Pazuzu – “Far too happy and sparkly”!?

    What do you expect? This is musical theatre, not Beckett.

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