Last week The Mayflower Theatre* reopened its door after shutting up shop in June for £7.5 million refurbishment project. This is the first time the venue has undergone a transformation of this scale in 30 years and myself and some of the Southampton Blogger girls headed along for the press night of Wicked to check out the transformation. The Mayflower celebrates its 90th birthday this year with over 500,000 people visiting the theatre every year it was way overdue that the venue was given a touch up to ensure it stays in best shape for many more years to come.
The venue has been completely repainted with red and gold interiors and all of the seats in the stalls and circle have been removed and replaced with 1,659 brand new wider seats which are to improve sight lines from every angle. All the seats in the balcony area have been reupholstered and together with all the new seats this bring the totals seat capacity to 2,274. The orchestra pit has been moved beneath the stage and the facilities for people with disabilities have been drastically improved with environmentally friendly LED lighting installed throughout.
Acclaimed as one of the greatest West End and Broadways shows of all time Wicked has been on my to watch list for an age but I’ve just never got around to seeing it. Telling the untold story of the Wizard of Oz this magical adventure is said to cast a spell on those young and old. Around the world Wicked has been seen by over 53 million people in 15 countries and won over 100 major awards including three-time winner of the WhatsOnStage Award for ‘Best West End Show’ and two-time winner of the Olivier Audience Award. This musical sensation has been casting its magical spell for well over a decade, continuing to break records at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre.
Wicked tells the unlikely story of the profound friendship between two sorcery students and their extraordinary adventures in the land of Oz which eventually leads to them fulfilling their destinies as Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West. Based on the best selling novel by Gregory Maguire, this ingenious story re-imagines the characters and the storyline of the infamous Wizard of Oz. A global phenomenon of stunning costumes, a compelling untold story and show stopping songs. I am yet to hear a bad review about the show so I was over the moon to be given the chance to watch the show for myself.
Wicked is due to become the 15th longest running show in West End Theatre history and is a must see for any budding theatre lover no matter your age. Whether it’s your 1st time or your 15th time you certainly won’t be disappointed. The all star cast included Amy Ross (Elphaba), Helen Woolf (Glinda), Aaron Sidwell (Fiyero), Steven Pinder (The Wizard and Doctor Dillamond), Kim Ismay (Madame Morrible), Emily Shaw (Nessarose), Iddon Jones (Boq) and Nikki Bentley (standby for Elphaba). The show takes a familiar story and portrays it in a completely original and unfamiliar way. It introduces an entire backstory into the lives of the Witches of Oz and allows us to see the decisions and events which shaped their destinies and led them to be the characters which we have come to know. It is the story of an unlikely friendship that develops between two very different young women as they struggle through changes and new experiences. The audience makes an emotional connection to the music and the characters throughout the performance.
Every single person watching will identify with Elphaba one way or another. We have all experienced a point in our lives where we have felt alienated from normal society and different to others which is exactly how Elphaba feels. Amy Ross was a powerful Elphaba, her solos were out of this world and gave me goosebumps from the moment she sang the first note. She was fiery, witty and brave and I love how her character developed through the acts. The chemistry between her and Aaron Sidwell was undeniable, you could feel the passion even from the back of the auditorium. Helen Woolf was the perfect Glinda – an unexpected mix of obnoxious and well intentioned. She was a character that grew on you throughout the performance as her friendship with Elphaba developed.
Every single song was performed to perfection with the most incredible costumes and intricate staging. The production was seamless and I really felt myself getting completely lost in the story. I loved the nod to the Wizard of Oz with some familiar faces appearing and I really enjoyed the astounding exploration of a character whom we have all branded as the ‘Wicked Witch’. This has firmly made its way to the best musical I have seen and this certainly won’t be the only time I watch this incredible show.
Wicked is on at the Mayflower from Wednesday 3rd October to Saturday 27th October and you can still buy tickets on their website.
*Complimentary tickets in exchange of review – see disclaimer.
Press pictures provided by Mayflower theatre