Review: WICKED London farewell and welcome cast shows

by Sarah

The dreaded day had finally come, Wicked Cast Change December 10th 2011
For those who don’t know, every year in the cast change matinee show there are lots of subtle (and some not so subtle!) changes made to the show but they are done in such a way that it does not ruin it for anyone who is there for the first time. What does ruin the show, however [gets into rant mode] are the groups of people who think it is perfectly acceptable to screech and squeal their way through the show so that others cannot hear it.

A little whoop at the beginning we will let you away with, it is cast change and the

festive season after all… and a nice bit of cheering at the end is always welcome. But when you have people squealing like banshees throughout it starts to wear thin and it must be very distracting for the performers [end of rant mode].

So what happened differently?

In “What is This Feeling”, Elphaba looked absolutely horrified when she saw the reflection of herself in Glinda’s mirror.

When Elphaba Does her dance in the Ozdust ballroom, instead of waving her arms around, she did some break dancing and rolled on the floor. We then had a classic Glinda confused face and then she got down on the floor and copied. When Boq stormed off stage he wailed “It’s Boq! And I can’t do this anymore… Toss… Toss”. Daniel and Joe were only wearing some of their costumes so flesh was exposed. I liked that bit! 😉 and Jennifer said her lines in a Scottish accent “yes you doooooooo”.

In “Popular” when Glinda throws her wand offstage, somebody threw it back on.

The toss toss laugh was back! Glinda was stroking Elphie’s hair. When Fiyero next saw Elphaba he said “you’ve been Galindafield toss toss” and then did the Toss Toss giggle!

In the Lion Cub scene when Fiyero runs back onstage with the lion cub, Glinda ran on after him.

In the station scene, Fiyero gave Elphie a green envelope instead of the red bunch of flowers

In “As Long as You’re Mine” Elphaba and Fiyero had a huge kiss at the end and then Elphaba threw herself on him.

At the end of the “Wicked Witch of the East” scene, Elphaba ended her bit with “I have done everything I could for you and it hasn’t been enough and, frankly my dear,

I don’t give a damn”.

At Curtain Call Elphaba and Glinda came on wearing bright coloured glasses and did the “Morecambe and Wise walk” onstage. When the curtain was coming down, Fiyero did a Bootilicious Beyonce booty wiggle dance!

The evening (i.e. last) show

It was an amazing show with all the little riffs, squeals etc. that we have all come to love from the performers. It was vocally mind-blowing and very special. Lovely entrance applause for ages when Glinda came down in her bubble and looked very emotional. Fiyero was fantastic throughout. The Dancing Through Life was probably the best one I have ever seen. I really like Mark as a performer and his dancing and singing seems so effortless. He has a really beautiful voice.

“For Good” was so emotional and it was clear they were singing it as Rachel and Louise, not Elphaba and Glinda. It was beautiful and towards the end they got very choked up and had a huge hug at the end. You could have heard a pin drop throughout. Louise and Rachel work amazingly well together but there has always been such a great chemistry between the cast, they are friends and that comes across on stage. The ensemble and swings are also fantastic and they will be greatly missed. Such a talented bunch, we have lost some great dancers!

Executive Producer, Michael McCabe came on at the end and gave a speech about the leavers, Rachel then did one about Louise saying that she worships the ground she walks on. Louise said she had painted her nails with “get a grip”. Loads of the cast were crying, as were many in the audience!

The stage door after the show was very busy but a great atmosphere and the cast were lovely, as always. Sad to see them go.

First show of the new cast Monday 12th December 2011

The new posters and cast board were up at the theatre and there was an air of anticipation in the crowd of what was to come.

On the “catfight” photo Glinda (now played by Gina Beck) looks all angry and mean so I had an impression in my mind of what she was going to be like, but this was not how she plays her at all. Some Glinda’s are arrogant and bitchy but Gina is more of an American-style Glinda in a way. She looked so cute (and petite) when she came down in the bubble and has a beautiful voice. She does a little shoulder wiggle when she does the Toss Toss which is adorable. It is a totally different kind of portrayal to what we have been used to, there is no squealing and she is posh. Very posh! She plays a very young Glinda but this works. My favourite bit for me was “thank goodness”. Normally I find this song incredibly boring (whoever is playing Glinda) it is just a dull song but I loved Gina’s version. I hate over analysing but it seemed a real turning point to me in her Glinda journey and there was a real vulnerability there that really came out, she just looked a lost soul. It was really lovely. I did enjoy watching her, but it is very different portrayal and it will take a lot of getting used to, for me.

Fiyero (now played by Matt Willis) is going to be the Marmite role, but it always has been. He came out arms covered in tattoos, which looked a little strange, but in the book Fiyero is covered in markings so it is not as unusual as it first seems. This led to a more macho Fiyero. It’s clear the dancing and acting doesn’t come as naturally as Mark but the singing was fine.

Nessa (now played by Lillie Flynn) was the stand out for me; I thought she was really terrific. Beautiful voice and acting and she seemed very vulnerable. You would have thought she had been there for many months, I think she is going to be a huge star. Really liked her.

Boq (Adam Pettigrew) was very sweet and cute. I liked the way was always giving little shy glances at Glinda as if trying to catch her eye. He and Nessa looked like they will be a good pairing.

It was strange to see Desmond Barritt back as the Wizard again after a two year break. He was good, of course, but I did miss Clive’s silliness and Desmond seems more of a Granddad figure than a Dad to Elphaba.

Dr Dillamond (Christopher Howell) was good and I did prefer him to Julian. Nice voice and acting.

As for the Ensemble, it was strange to not see the familiar faces but they did a really good job. The witches father (Kieran Brown) was especially fantastic and I cannot wait to see some of the understudies get a chance at playing the lead roles. I am especially looking forward to seeing David Rudin and Oliver Watton as Fiyero, Andrew Bryant as Boq and Michelle Pentecost as Elphaba!

I had thought that maybe it was time for Rachel Tucker to leave but when she first ran out I realise it wasn’t, the new cast really need someone like her there. She is vocally outstanding and I would go so far to say that I think she is technically the best Elphaba that London has ever had. She should be winning award after award and would be, if it wasn’t for the theatre snobs.

So that concludes a mad weekend in Oz but what did YOU think? Tweet me @wicked_ldn_news and comment here as well. What do you think of the new cast? I will say, though, don’t write anyone off before you have seen them for yourself. Go along, support the show and make your own mind up.