Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Are You Wicked?

It's not often I get excited about a new musical - so many of them these days are schmulzy Lloyd-Webber or Lloyd-Webber wannabes, and there seems to be an increasing trend for translating previously unmusical films to the stage (Billy Elliot, Whistle Down the Wind, The Producers...) and adding songs. This can sometimes work, but it can also turn into one of those "Let's throw in a musical number here to kill some time" type shows, where the singing seems entirely gratuitous, rather than the songs flowing naturally out of the action.

A few months ago I was out drinking with my oldest friend Jordan (with whom I have been in many amateur musicals), who was telling me about a recent trip to New York where she had been blow away by a new musical on Broadway called 'Wicked'. She explained that it was based on a fictional (obviously) biography of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, which charts her demise into wickedness (she wasn't always so it seems). This rang a bell, as I remembered seeing such a book in a quirky little shop in Clapham Junction years ago, then never being able to find it afterwards because it wasn't published in the UK. I'd forgotten about it until that evening, when Jordan's excitement got me all enthused again.

Soon afterwards I discovered that Wicked the musical is coming to the West End in September, and tickets are already selling out fast. I had a quick look on ebay and found two tickets on sale for my birthday night - surely it was meant to be! I hadn't even heard any of the songs at this point, and was going purely on recommendation. So a few days ago I downloaded the album (which is only available on import at the moment) and listened to it on my way to work this morning. Thankfully I wasn't disappointed - Stephen Schwartz has delivered his most energetic, stirring and entertaining musical yet (and I'm a big fan of Godspell). It's particularly refreshing to have two female leads getting all the best numbers (and a whole new world of audition pieces for us singers!). I haven't decided yet whether to read the book before I go to see the musical - which is advertised as 'loosely based' on Gregory Maguire's novel. Recently published in the UK in a beautifully designed black and shiny-green hardback, it made a perfect present for a gay friend's birthday - perhaps I'll borrow it back from him.

Wicked's UK Website


  1. Wow, just noticed your Freecycle link. I can't wait to get settled in Arizona and sign back up. We had the BEST bargains here in Alaska (didn't take advantage too often when the weather made the roads bad...)

    Really wanted to comment on the musical. Never been to any type & you just made me want to make a resolution to remedy that. (I want to see "Dreamgirls," "Lion King," and something romantic.


  2. Isn't it cool that Freecycle is global now? You meet such a weird mix of people through it - my husband gets a bit freaked out when strangers come to the door and take away our stuff!

    You should definitely go and see some musicals - they're very uplifting! I saw Lion King a few years ago in the West End - it was visually stunning, but if you've already seen the film there are no real surprises!


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