New York has Broadway, London has the West End … A clump of theatres in the same geographical area. However, we also have a few theatres dotted randomly here and there, away from the bright lights of the West End . The Apollo Victoria, the home of Wicked London, is one of those theatres. It lies opposite one of London ’s busiest train stations, London Victoria , on a street inevitably awash with business people rushing along, clutching free newspapers and takeaway cappuccinos. It’s not the most glamorous location for the home of the Worlds Best Musical, but the theatre itself makes up for that.
According to their website “the building was designed as a “super-cinema” by E. Warmsley Lewis in 1930 in striking art deco style. The cinema closed in 1975, reopening six years later as a theatre, with a concert by Shirley Bassey providing the opening night”. When walking down the road, unlike its New York counterpart, you would never struggle to work out where the theatre is. The exterior glows bright green by night and the large Wicked logo is surrounded by a million glittering green sequins which catch the sun and sparkle merrily by day. Inside the theatre you will find stunning Art Deco decoration on the vaulted ceilings – shells, fluted columns and soft rolling drapes in silvers and soft pink roll upwards from the stalls on ground floor to the roof. The set is huge, always an impressive sight when you walk into the auditorium and there are 2208 seats, making it one of the biggest theatres in London . It also probably holds the honour for the biggest interval toilet queues!
Wicked opened in London in September 2006 and is still going strong four years later, with no sign that audiences are dwindling, even in the harsh current economic climate. The story is pure escapism and the leading ladies get standing ovations night after night. Devotees find themselves returning time and time again and squeal with glee on internet message boards when it is announced one of the understudies is to make a rare appearance as lead, rush to the steps of the theatre to camp for day tickets with a flask and an mp3 player full of show audios, before mobbing them when they arrive at the Stage Door. There is just a buzz about this show which inspires unprecedented levels of devotion. Long may it continue!