Just back from seeing the musical, Wicked, at the Manchester Palace Theatre – Thursday 12 September.
I was incredibly fortunate to have been able to secure front row circle tickets for the very first night of the first ever UK tour, and from the outset wanted to make sure that readers were aware of the infancy of this touring production when I saw it, to perhaps put in to context any comments made. You should also be aware that I’m a massive fan of the show already, having already seen it in London perhaps 10+ times, and I was probably one of the first people in the country to buy my tickets for the production!
With all of that said, this production was enchanting, spellbinding, and wickedly fantastic!
The differences between the West End production and the Touring production were minimal, and it was fantastic to see what I’ve loved for so long on the West End stage be recreated most faithfully on my own ‘home’ stage, as it were. It’s a very true reproduction, and for that, the entire creative team should be commended! It was especially fantastic to see that the Time Dragon had made the tour too, even if he was in a much more smoothly/non-manually animated form.
In terms of the casting, one of my absolute favourite musical theatre stars is the fantastic Nikki Davis-Jones, and her performance as Elphaba this evening was positively electrifying (as it was when I last saw her as Elphaba in London, 2011)!
Equally as fantastic is her double-billing counterpart, Emily Tierney as Glinda, possibly my joint favourite incarnation of the role that I’ve seen on stage thus far (Louise Dearman’s being the other)!
Dale Rapley managed to turn two of my least favourite characters, Doctor Dillamond and The Wizard, in to characters that I really enjoyed watching tonight, which is no mean feat, that’s for sure!
Marilyn Cutts was a stalwart, sinister and sickly as Madame Morrible (a compliment, I assure you!), and the audience really were at odds as to whether to boo or cheer her come the final curtain – she even won us over!
The only bit of casting that I was a little unsure of was Liam Doyle, who has landed the role of Fiyero. THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT I DIDN’T ENJOY HIS PERFORMANCE OR TALENT! (I felt I had to capitalise that as it’s something that I really do want to stress). What I’m getting at is that Liam Doyle was not as similar to the previous casting stereotypes for this role that I’m used to for the West End, therefore, it took me a little time to warm to this new perception of him. Only people as crazy as I am, who know the show inside out and have been going since it opened in the West End 7 years ago, will likely find this distracting, I think, plus it was also the very first night, so fair allowances are needed.
The audience tonight were absolutely electric. As soon as the lights went down, people were cheering, applauding and there was a real buzz in the air – this was clearly the ‘fanboy’ performance. When Nikki came on as Elphaba, the show had to pause for a moment whilst the applause took place, and even AT THE INTERVAL, I saw a number of people ovating – which you never ever see!
This production of Wicked has absolutely smashed it on their debut UK tour, and I think that audiences across the UK are going to flock to see this in their thousands and come away feeling ‘changed for the better’ – whether you’re a first timer, or a twenty-second timer -this show still absolutely has something for you (yes, I still got ‘totes emosh’ at the end), and I’d urge you to snap up tickets where they’re still available.
Wicked is currently playing at the Manchester Palace until Saturday 16 November 2013, after which time it will go on to tour the UK (and Dublin, Ireland). Further information can be found on the tour’s official website, which also includes a handy guide to advise on the best dates to try to secure tickets to see this spectacular show.