After reading a press release about Wicked’s Louise Dearman going over to the green side, switching lead roles from Glinda to Elphaba, I was a bit non-plussed. Sure, being the first actress in the show’s history to land both of the coveted star roles is an achievement, but it wasn’t until I saw the show in person for the first time last week that I realised what a news-worthy story her colourful transformation really is. The fact that she has switched between two polar opposite characters demonstrates her phenomenal acting skills.
At last night’s performance she just seemed so perfectly suited to the role of Elphaba, with a fiery feistiness oozing through every beautifully sung note that I just can’t imagine her ‘toss-toss’-ing her hair with the same giggly frivolity that her co-star Gina Beck so effortlessly manages. However, the fact that she previously played the role of the ‘Good Witch’ for an impressive 18 months to huge critical acclaim is proof enough that in both roles her extraordinary talent really shines. Perhaps if I’d seen her in her previous role then her transformation would have been even more impressive. Nonetheless, I was totally blown away by both leading ladies at the Apollo Victoria theatre on last week’s press trip.
The chemistry between the two stars did perfect justice to the complicated relationship shared by Glinda and Elphaba; one that starts out as a fervid rivalry and ends as an enduring and heart warming friendship. Their joint performance of ‘Popular’ where Glinda determines to make Elphaba her new project was one of my favourite of the night and, for me, summed up the side of the story that made it so appealing. I think that in most aspiring young women like myself there are two very different sides. One that’s sensible, hard working and outspoken and one that’s playful, light-hearted and determined to have fun which is why the humour of the two characters cajoling each other was so relatable.
As well as the numerous comedic highlights throughout the performance, I also enjoyed the more sentimental moments. I’ll admit to having to wipe a tear from my eye as the plot drew to a close (I won’t spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet!) Comedy and tragedy aside, I was also impressed with all the clever ways the story made references to the Wizard of Oz. The plot of Wicked tells the behind-the-scenes story of Dorothy and co. who I watched endlessly as a child. Finding out the reasons why the Tin Man has no heart and why the Lion is so cowardly was a real treat. It’s no coincidence that Fiyero rhymes with Scarecrow! Ben Freeman was brilliant in the leading male role and was also very easy on the eye.
All in all, my first visit to see Wicked was hugely enjoyable and has left me wanting to download the soundtrack. I highly recommend going to see the show and if you’ve seen it before, you should definitely go again to see the sensational Louise in her new role.
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