Who 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.
But 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.