Thursday, 2 April 2015

Review: Wicked, Sunderland Empire

Emily Tierney and Ashleigh Gray

On April 1, 2015 I heard Defying Gravity being sang live for the first time in my life. A song that I have had on my iPod since 2007, a song that I have listened to since the age of 13 and a song that I can recite all of the lyrics to without fault. And I can tell you, that it was everything that I could have hoped for and more. 

Wicked: The Untold Story Of The Witches Of Oz flew into the Sunderland Empire on March 31 as part of its UK tour. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the press evening where I got to rub shoulders with some North East celebs including Chris Ramsey, Faye Tozer (from Steps!), Joe McElderry and last but not least, the Moffatt family from Gogglebox! But better than that, I got to watch my new (unbeknown to me) favourite musical.

The view from the dress circle

As the show began, I was instantly blown away by the set, the vibrant colours and the costumes. Oh, the costumes. Glinda the Good wears dresses that would make even the Disney princesses jealous. The shimmer, sequins and sparkles combine to make up the perfect wardrobe for popular, picture-perfect witch Glinda, who initially appears to be the Regina George of the witch-world as she taunts Elphaba for her green skin.

Though the story of Elphaba, a misunderstood young girl who desperately craves acceptance, is what captured me the most. The evergreen heroine's heart of gold tugged at my own heart strings, as the show followed her journey as an activist, fighting for the freedom of those whose voices could not be heard. 

The untold story is the perfect definition for the show. A character written off as evil, Ashleigh Gray executes Elphaba's role brilliantly, with spell-binding power ballads that brought people to their feet (no magic involved!), a strong desperation for acceptance among her normal peers and the infamous Wicked Witch of the West cackle.

Glinda and Elphaba's friendship forms the core of the prequel as secret "behind-the-scenes footage" shows us how the girls met, what really happened in the Wizard of Oz and the events that lead to Glinda becoming good and Elphaba becoming wicked (spoiler: Elphaba goes through a lot and I wanted to give her a big hug)

The sets glitter, the songs raise the roof, the cast defies gravity (quite literally) and the Wizard of Oz nostalgia hits hard. Nevertheless, I was amazed to see the story cover all of its bases, as the two storylines perfectly entwined to form the story of two best friends: one good, one wicked.

Wicked, tonight you made all of my dreams come true. You were everything I had hoped for and more. And nobody in all of Oz, no Wizard that there is or was, is ever gonna bring me dooooooooooooooown.

Wicked has been shortlisted for ITV's This Morning Audience Award in the 2015 Olivier Awards (this is the only Olivier Award that can be voted for by the public) so if you love Wicked as much as me, please head over to this link to vote for them.

1 comment:

  1. Aw I'm so glad you enjoyed Wicked! I was lucky enough to see it live in London last April, and I was desperate to get tickets to the Sunderland showing at the empire since I'm at uni there. But isn't defying gravity just magical to hear live! Everything about it was wonderful, I can't wait to see it again!

    Rosie xox