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Ever wonder what the real Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, was like?
Back before Dorothy's
house turned her sister into Yellow Brick Road-kill, and Dorothy gave her a
shower, Elphaba was a student just trying to do what was right.
From Monday 18th November 2013, Wicked proudly welcomes Willemijn Verkaik
to the role of ‘Elphaba.’ The award-winning Dutch star has previously played the
role in more than 1000 performances in Holland, Germany and most recently on
Broadway. In the hit musical’s decade-long history, she is the only actress to
perform the role in more than one language.
Willemijn Verkaik said: “It has been my great honour to have played ‘Elphaba’ in
Wicked in Germany, Holland and on Broadway, and to have been part of this
musical's incredible international success. I am overjoyed, and sincerely
grateful, that the producers have now invited me to make my West End debut
playing this extraordinary role in the musical that has literally changed my
From Monday 18 November 2013, the complete London production of Wicked is: Willemijn Verkaik (Elphaba), Savannah Stevenson (Glinda), Jeremy Taylor (Fiyero),
Sue Kelvin (Madame Morrible), Sam Kelly (The Wizard), Paul Clarkson (Doctor
Dillamond), Sam Lupton (Boq), Katie Rowley Jones (Nessarose), Emma Hatton
(Standby Elphaba), Sophie Linder-Lee (Standby Glinda), Florence Andrews, Kyle
Anthony, William Bozier, Oliver Brenin, Lauren Brooke, Philippa Buxton, Philip
Catchpole, Aisling Duffy, Samuel Edwards, Kerry Enright, Michelle Francis,
Jacqueline Hughes, Melissa Jacques, Marc McBride, Stacey McGuire, Natalie
McQueen, Greg Miller Burns, Tom Muggeridge, Rachel Muldoon, Sean Parkins,
Charlie Stemp, Lauren Stroud, Lindsay Taylor, Justin Thomas, Hannah Toy, Matt
Turner, Russell Walker and Jenny Wickham.
This is the story of her college years,
a campaign for animal rights and the lonely struggle with the fact it is no fun being
and in love.
Wizard or not.
Stephen Schwartz provides the music and lyrics based on a novel by Gregory
Maguire. Winnie Holtzman provides the musical book, Eugene Lee the scenery,
Susan Hilferty costumes, with Joe Mantello directing and Wayne Cilento credited
for musical staging. The monkey's Great Uncle Ex-Squadron-Leader Wilberforce would also like
credit for training the flying monkeys, apparently... even though he didn't.
Photographic credits for above: (from the current / Past London
casts of this production)
(1) Elphaba 2011 London Cast. (2) Dianne Pilkington and Oliver Tompsett. Photo by Tristram Kenton. (3) Glinda 2011 London Cast. (4) Idina Menzel and Company. Photo by Tristram Kenton. (5) Fiyero 2011 London Cast. (6) Nigel Planer and Idina Menzel. Photo by Tristram Kenton.
All photographs are copyright of the production and photographer as
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Hear the show: a dedicated SoundCloud channel has been created to showcase
snippets of the incredible music by multi GRAMMY® and Academy Award® winner
Stephen Schwartz. You can take a look at the channel here:
for a taste of some of the show-stopping tunes from the musical?
Also worth knowing is that WICKED, the global musical phenomenon that tells
the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz, is now on a major tour of the
UK and Ireland. Tour dates include its Irish premiere at the Bord Gáis Energy
Theatre in Dublin in November 2013. The strictly limited 8-week season will run
from Wednesday 27 November 2013 until Saturday 18 January 2014. Then: Milton Keynes Theatre (4 February to 8 March 2014) – In April, the Milton
Keynes Theatre announced that in its first week of tickets going on sale, the
smash hit musical Wicked broke Box Office records with the highest grossing
ticket sales in the theatre’s history.
Wales Millennium Centre (12 March to 26 April 2014) .
Glasgow King’s Theatre (6 May to 31 May 2014).
Leeds Grand Theatre (10 June to 5 July 2014).
Birmingham Hippodrome (9 July to 6 September 2014) Southampton Mayflower Theatre (Tuesday 21 October 2014 until Saturday 15
November 2014). of Oz, When tickets went on public sale on Tuesday 1st October
2013 it set a new Box Office record for an on-sale with 5284 tickets booked on
the first day. Ticket buyers had waited in line at the Box Office from 5.15am.
The previous record was held by The Phantom of the Opera with 4376 tickets
booked in one day. Liverpool Empire Theatre (16 September to 11 October
The tour cast will be: Nikki Davis-Jones (Elphaba), Emily Tierney (Glinda), Liam
Doyle (Fiyero), Marilyn Cutts (Madame Morrible), Dale Rapley (The Wizard and
Doctor Dillamond), Carina Gillespie (Nessarose), George Ure (Boq), Jemma
Alexander (Standby Elphaba), Lee Bridgman, Chrissy Brooke, Richard Carson,
Harrison Clark, Jeanine Dinger, Tim Edwards, Howard Ellis, Natasha Ferguson, Zoe
George, Lia Given, Natalie Green, Charlie Harding, Katie Kerr, Robert Kershaw,
Will Knights, Sophie Leigh-Griffin, Candy Marriott, Oliver Metzler, Wendy-Lee
Purdy, Julienne Schembri, Grant Thresh, Ed White and Helen Woolf.
The London production continues its record-breaking run at the Apollo Victoria
Theatre. On Saturday 30th March 2013 the show proudly welcomed its 5 millionth
theatregoer, and played its 3000th performance at London’s Apollo Victoria
Theatre at 2.30pm on 16th November 2013.
WICKED is pleased to reveal a brand new video from the open auditions for the
West End 2013/14 Company and UK & Ireland Tour Company that were held during
April 2013 at Pineapple Studios, London:
Wicked is proud to announce the fourth year of its "prestigious Wicked Young
Writers’ Award" (The Times). Spearheaded by Michael Morpurgo, award-winning
creator of War Horse, the Award recognises excellence in writing, encourages
creativity, and helps develop writing talent in young people between 5-25 years
of age from all backgrounds and areas of the UK & Ireland.
The Award was established in order to link the important messages of the
long-running musical with a competition that would inspire young people to use
their writing to look at life a little differently. The Award is championed by
Patron Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall. Assisting Michael Morpurgo
with the judging process will be Michael McCabe, Executive Producer of WICKED,
and Jonathan Douglas, the director of the National Literacy Trust, and Dean
Atta, acclaimed poet and playwright.
Michael McCabe said in a statement: "As Wicked continues in London and also
embarks on its first ever UK & Ireland Tour, I am hugely excited at the prospect
of engaging even more young people with this fantastic creative writing scheme
and delighted that this year we have been able to extend the geographic reach to
include Ireland as well as the UK"
Michael Morpurgo praised the scheme: "I am delighted to be involved in the
Wicked Young Writers' Award. We all have a story to tell or a poem to sing. The
problem is finding the voice to sing it. The Wicked Young Writers’ Award, with
teachers and parents, helps to inspire so many young people to write
passionately and from the heart, and to celebrate their own unique voice."
The 2013/14 Wicked Young Writers’ Award is open for entries and will run
concurrently with the school year until 31st March 2014. Writing styles can vary
from poetry to prose and young people will be judged according to five age
categories: 5-7, 8-10, 11-14, 15-17 and 18-25.
A shortlist of 100 entrants will be invited to a very special prize event at the
Apollo Victoria Theatre in Summer 2014. All 100 shortlisted entrants will see
their poem or story published in the Wicked Young Writers’ Award Anthology.
Winners from each of the four age-categories will be announced and will receive
a certificate signed by Michael Morpurgo and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, the
Wicked Young Writers’ Award Anthology and £50 books/eBooks tokens to spend, as
well as £100 worth of books for their school library donated by Hachette
Entries can be submitted individually or as part of a school group and both
online and postal entries are accepted.
This review refers to the original cast. Casting has now changed. "Lyrics and music and book, oh my!" Proof, if proof were needed, that the
old-fashioned Broadway musical isn't dead. The story is basically the
traditional "green girl wants boy, boy wants yellow girl" ending with green girl
turning boy yellow, and yellow and green girl settling their differences - with
some animal rights stuff and zingy one liners thrown in. The satisfaction is in
the neat dovetailing with the classic film - find out how the well loved
characters became what they are; the downside is overlong sequences that look
great but add twenty minutes of ballast to the proceedings.
This is very much a show of two halves. The first has Winnie "My So Called
Life" Holzman channel female adolescence with acuity once again. If business
starts to slip, producers should re-paint the theatre walls powder pink,
replace seats with furry-toy strewn beds and provide free popcorn, cosmetics and
a pizza delivery service. Very much attuned to the sleepover crowd, the fun
"Popular" and 'I wish' numbers "The Wizard and I" and "I'm
Not That Girl" are
arrows to teenage hearts. Once the director realises "Popular" works way better
with an American air-head accent than it does with a British spoof-Sloane one,
it'll be the perfect "DVD night in" substitute. That isn't to say Helen Dallimore
should be upset by frank analysis, but the director should consider the show in
need of personality dialysis and restore it to the original (United States)
state at the next cast change. Oh, and that line is probably the "wittiest" in the
show - you can almost hear Sondheim scream as it is sung.
Act two grows progressively darker, and the resolutions come late into it.
Tighter than act one, and noticeably more adult, it eschews the clumsy shifts of
place for a smoother cinematic feel but feels rushed to ensure the show comes in
at the sub-three hour mark. The searing "As Long as You're Mine" and insightful
"For Good" deserved time that "Wizomania" pointlessly occupies and could have
turned a good show into an unforgettable one. Time to contemplate motives, cause
and effect are limited, and the monkey would have appreciated more of it spaced
through the production.
Expensively staged, occasionally buckling under its own spectacular mass,
set (Elphaba could perhaps have flown properly had there been space) and a
desire to give the audience every penny of the production costs in spectacle
over substance, this is the golden era of musicals brought into the 21st
century. Those old musicals had their faults, as does this, but ultimately a
show succeeds on how deep its songs and images engrave themselves in the memory.
Probably too crass for the current "post war" musical lover (though Schwartz
produces some of his best work here), Wicked will still worm its way into the
affections of many - younger people especially - perhaps ultimately ending up as
a "standard" in fifty years time. As the dragon signifies, it is time that
tells, and this show is mostly worthy of the audiences' hours.