This week I was fortunate to be invited to a press event to promote Wicked the Musical and The Broadway Collection. We were treated to a champagne and canapés reception at the splendid Aster restaurant, munching on smoked salmon blinis and bite sized chicken rolls. I’d been working hard at World Travel Market all day so it was a joy to put my feet up and relax.
Wicked’s UK Executive Producer Michael McCabe provided a bit of background to this well known tale. It’s been a while since I saw the movie, I’ve never seen the stage production or read the book, so his contribution was useful in explaining a little more of the story. In the musical, for instance, the witch is named Elphaba – named for the book’s writer L. Frank Baum, who apparently didn’t like his first name and insisted on being referred to as L. Frank. But it was the key theme that Michael highlighted that got me thinking: are we born wicked or instead are we shaped by our surroundings and the events that involve us?
The musical itself was enjoyable and entertaining. Wicked compared well to my previous favourites Evita and Les Misérables. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget the performance is live when it’s as faultless as this. The characters soon engage and endear themselves, even Elphaba (though of course she’s meant to!) and there was enough humour in the script to stop it from drowning in schmaltz. And let’s not forget the incredible voices – this is talent that doesn’t rely on audience votes and celebrity endorsement to make you appreciate what you’re listening to.
The highlight of the evening for me, however, came at the end. We were invited up on stage to handle some of the props and costumes from the show. I had no idea baby Elphaba would be so heavy or that the witch hat would be so uncomfortable – to my relief I’m not a natural witch after all! The costumes were weighty too, each reflecting the hours and hours of work that had gone into their design and manufacture. All credit to the actors who’d be wearing them under the house lights in November, let alone in summer in a city that barely knows what air conditioning is.
Where to catch Wicked
If you are in London, I’d definitely recommend hotfooting it over to the Apollo Victoria to see it. You’ll follow the millions that have seen it since it began its run in 2006, many of whom have seen it more than once. In New York, you’ll find it at the Gershwin Theatre right near Broadway on 51st Street.
It forms part of The Broadway Collection, together with favourites like Blue Man Group, The Book of Mormon, Miss Saigon and The Lion King. You can purchase your tickets in the UK before you leave from a number of tour operators and agents including TUI, Virgin Holidays and Lastminute.com. There’s more information on their webpage at http://www.broadwaycollection.com or check out the Facebook page at facebook.com/BroadwayInbound and tweet them at @BroadwayInbound.
I’d like to extend my thanks to Made Travel, particularly to their most welcoming press rep Anthony McNeill, who invited me to the event and took care of the tickets and refreshments during the evening. Find out more about them at made.travel.