Friday, 23 October 2015

Review: Emma Hatton, Savannah Stevenson & Oliver Savile star in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre

Apollo Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 22nd October 2015

As the West End production of Wicked enters its tenth year at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, several new cast members have joined Emma Hatton and Savannah Stevenson who lead the cast as Elphaba and Glinda. Set in the mystical world of Oz, Wicked continues to cast audiences under its spell. 

Based on Gregory Maguire’s novel of the same name, Wicked tells the untold story of the witches of Oz. After seeing Wicked you will never be able to watch The Wizard of Oz in the same way ever again. During the first act we learn how the two witches - The Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda The Good - came to meet during their time at university, whilst in the second half we discover what happened behind the scenes when Dorothy was following the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. 

The show may feature a grand design, dazzling costumes and an epic score, but at its heart Wicked is a show about the unique friendship formed between two women. Wicked stands apart from other shows because of the way it speaks to people; everyone can relate to a character in some way. 

Emma Hatton originally joined Wicked in 2013 as the standby for Elphaba. After performing the role on many occasions, earlier this year she took over the part full time. I saw Hatton play Elphaba some time ago and had thoroughly enjoyed her performance; however, last night I was bowled over by her talents. It is remarkable to see how Hatton has grown into a formidable West End leading lady. 

Previously I've seen Elphabas who hold back considerably throughout the show to save their voices for the big songs, whereas Hatton isn't afraid to march into each and every scene all guns blazing. Her Elphaba is fierce, angry with the world and prepared to fight for what she believes in until the day she dies. 

Hatton has perfected and fine-tuned her renditions of the big songs with individuality and flair. Those who have seen the show will know that as the first act reaches its climax, Elphaba flies into the air belting out the final section of 'Defying Gravity'. However, due to a technical hitch, last night the flying mechanism didn't work so instead Hatton had to resort to plan b. She stormed to the front of the stage, with the guards lying at her feet, and proceeded to belt out one of the most incredible renditions of 'Defying Gravity' I have ever heard. 

Hatton may not have defied gravity, but her voice certainly did. Her final 'bring me downs' were insanely powerful - she performed for her life. Hatton came into her own as the show progressed into the second act, with her almighty rendition of 'No Good Deed' providing the evening's highlight. Last night Emma Hatton was in a league of her own. She is a vocal powerhouse and dealt with the 'no-fly' press night blip superbly. 

Savannah Stevenson continues to give a stunning performance as Glinda. Her vocals soar whilst some of her comical moments are utterly brilliant. Stevenson won last night's audience over immediately and had everyone in hysterics during 'Popular' before giving a heartfelt rendition of 'Thank Goodness' in the second half. 

Having only joined the cast last month, Oliver Savile already looks at home onstage as Fiyero. I enjoyed his acting choices; often Fiyero isn't very likeable when he first arrives in Oz, but Savile is immediately charming and brings out some nice humour. Savile sweeps across the stage during 'Dancing Through Life' and embraces every second as if he were born to play Fiyero.

Broadway actor Tom McGowan has brought his joyfully endearing portrayal of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to London, working opposite Liza Sadovy who terrifies as Madame Morrible. Also new to the cast is Sean Kearns who makes a fantastic Doctor Dillamond. Having understudied the role for a year, Daniel Hope has taken over as Boq with his geordie accent making the character more loveable than ever. Hope appears alongside the production's longest serving principal Katie Rowley Jones as Nessarose. 

It is no secret that Wicked is my guilty pleasure; there is something incredibly blissful about watching the show. There is still such an exciting buzz surrounding Wicked which will only get stronger as the West End production gears up for its tenth birthday celebrations.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Wicked is currently booking at the Apollo Victoria Theatre until Saturday 5th November 2016.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

Read our interviews with Katie Rowley Jones & Emma Hatton
+ watch out for our interview with Oliver Savile & Daniel Hope coming soon

Photo Credit: Matt Crockett

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