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Theatre Review: Wicked

A once sexy, sassy and sensational production is now showing signs of aging

Sophie Evans & Laura Pick. Credit: Matt Crockett

Apollo Theatre, London, until
May 22, 2022

It’s been all of 15 years since I first reviewed Wicked and gave it five stars and called it – to the delight of the show’s publicists – sexy, sassy and sensational.

The secret of Joe Mantello’s production is it gets what musical theatre is about: it needs to look right, sound right and make all the right moves, and this is the triple whammy that, broadly speaking, it achieves.

Not all the critics were, however, so enamoured on that opening night.

There was a sense that this prequel to the classic film The Wizard of Oz was, while obviously impressive to behold, too cynically put together and somehow lacked – like the Tin Man – a heart.

I suppose the first time around – with a cast that included Nigel Planer, Idina Menzel and Miriam Margolyes – it was easy to be dazzled.

Seeing it again on its big anniversary gala night without such a great cast, and, inevitably after such a long time, showing some signs of fatigue, it was hard not to feel a bit like catching up with an old friend who, while maybe once sexy, sassy and sensational, seemed suddenly to be sexless, slow and somnolent.

I don’t say it’s lost all of its charm, but I’m going to remove two of its stars this time around and say it’s maybe had its day.

Still, what no one can ever take away from it, given I first saw it long before Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, full-on populism and Brexit, is its prescience, which is probably best expressed in its great line: “Life’s more painless for the brainless.”

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