I was recently invited to attend a presentation on aspects of being green. Fortunately, it I wasn’t a lecture on ecology but the launch of the 2018 National Tour of the musical ‘Wicked’. The production is coming to Leeds in June for a second time, having been here on its first venture out of the West End in 2014.
The musical is based on a book by Gregory Maguire called ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ which examines the concepts of wickedness and being different from everyone else. That being said, it is a family show and the songs by Stephen Schwartz are superb. We were treated to a couple of numbers, one by Amy Ross who plays Elphaba and another from Helen Woolf, Glinda in the show. Aaron Sidwell was also on hand to tell us about his role as Fiyero. Aaron, or Steven Beale from Eastenders as you may know him better, has an affinity with Leeds ,being in the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s original production of Loserville. He was here for several weeks for the extended rehearsal period as well as the run of the play and said that it was a special time when he grew to love the City. Obviously a man of impeccable taste. Helen Woolf told me that this is the best production of the musical she has been in and she should know as she has appeared in the West End show as well as being on the first national tour.
Michael McCabe, the Executive Producer, reassured us that no effort had been spared in making sure that this touring production was well up to the standard set by that in the West End. The theatres on the road may not be of the same size as the one in London, but ingenious touches have been adopted to ensure that the experience is the same, if not better. Speaking of theatres, all were agreed that they could not wait to perform at the Grand, which they all hold in the highest regard. It’s not just me then. Margie Bailey, the Costume Supervisor, astounded us with facts concerning the amazing amount of work which goes into the creation and maintenance of the outfits, wigs, hats, jewellery, shoes etc. She also confided, so please keep it to yourself, that one of the complete costume changes has to be done in just 48 seconds. It takes me longer than that to take my hat off!
I have not had the pleasure of seeing Wicked before so, like you, I can’t wait to get to the Grand in June to put that right. Judging by the enthusiasm, dedication and downright talent of all those involved, I am sure that it will prove to be, well, Wicked!
Cover photograph by Stan Graham; Second photograph provided by Wicked - Ant Robling