How 'Wicked' became the West End's most swankified musical
Let us be glad, let us be grateful... that Wicked is still enchanting audiences in the West End! A prequel to The Wizard of Oz, the musical tells of the previously untold stories of Elphaba and Glinda to an anthemic score by Stephen Schwartz. Ahead of the musical's 14th anniversary in London, we take a look at how the show has well and truly painted the town green in London.
It's one of the West End's longest-running shows ever
Considered to be a musical theatre 'classic', Wicked has definitely established itself in the history books. Since its first performance on Sept. 27, 2006, the show's continuous run at the Apollo Victoria Theatre puts Wicked as the seventh longest-running show that's currently open today. It's also the fourth longest-running musical, behind Les Miserables, The Lion King and Mamma Mia! respectively.
In the history of West End theatre, Wicked ranks 13th for number of performances. We can't wait to see the show climb the leaderboard and get into the top ten shows of all time.
It's been performed over 5,500 times
Some of the West End's leading ladies have starred in Wicked
Since the West End production opened in 2006, 11 actresses have played Elphaba and 8 actresses have played Glinda. These include The Prince of Egypt's Alexia Khadime, Rachel Tucker and Come From Away's Alice Fearn. Louise Dearman has also made history as the first actress to play Elphaba and Glinda.
Over 10 million people have visited the Land of Oz
With over 2,300 seats at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, the cast of Wicked perform to thousands each week. On Oct. 9, 2019, the 10 millionth visitor was welcomed into the auditorium — Geeta Ozdural from London. With the show continuing its London run, who knows when the 11 millionth visitor will be greeted?
West End audiences love the green glitz
Musicals and plays often transfer from London to the Great White Way, but did you know Wicked is one of only three Broadway transfers to play for a decade or longer. In 2016, Wicked joined The Lion King and Chicago to achieve this monumental feat.
It's made money at the box office too
In 2011, Wicked became the first show ever to gross over £1,000,000 at the box office. The record was broken for the week ending Jan. 1, 2011, but since then has beaten its own financial milestone numerous times.
Initial reviews weren't exactly stellar
Unlike most West End hits, Wicked didn't receive unanimous praise from the critics. In 2006, Peter Brown for LondonTheatre.co.uk said: "Don't look for anything too deep in terms of morality or psychological motivation, because 'Wicked' is pure fantasy entertainment, and doesn't offer much in the way of thought provoking revelations about the human psyche or condition." But, the show's life has clearly beat first expectations, becoming the mega musical it is known to be today.
The show has gone on two national tours
Audiences from up and down the country have been to see the wonderful Wizard of Oz, thanks to two national tours of Wicked. The first UK tour ran from 2013 to 2015, with a second tour from 2017 to 2019.
The first international tour of Wicked also began in Britain, with performances at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford in 2016. The tour later went on to Asia, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Manila.
The musical has inspired a generation of budding writers
In 2010, the show launched the 'Wicked Young Writer Awards', a creative writing competition for young people aged 5 to 25. The competition encourages entrants to write about anything they wish, with the top entries winning tickets and a backstage tour. Since the competition started, over 20,000 submissions have been accepted.
Wicked tickets are available now.
Photo credit: (Courtesy of Matt Crockett)
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