Thursday, September 28, 2006

Were London Critics Mourning West End Wicked?

Were London Critics Mourning West End Wicked?

In an early cursory review of London media, only one of the three critics I’ve checked seemed to enjoy the London production of Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked, which opened last night at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.

In saying “Wicked works like a dream,” critic Nicholas de Jongh of the Evening Standard strikes a lone positive note, adding, “the spectacle, the experience of a magical mystery tour through the fantasy land of Oz that takes and holds attention.... Joe Mantello's production expertly marshals this remarkable kaleidoscope of magical shocks, surprises and sensations.”

The Independent’s Paul Taylor admits to the following exchange at the end of the first act: “‘Are you liking it.’ ‘I'm afraid I'm not,’ I replied. There was a ghastly pause. ‘Well everyone else is!’ she barked.” Indeed, Taylor also laments, “I enjoyed very little apart from the delicious Miriam Margolyes, all embonpoint and Barbara Cartland face as Madame Morrible, mistress of the magic academy....The production manages to feel at once overblown and empty.”

Providing only two out of five stars for what he calls an “ersatz show,” The Times’ Benedict Nightingale harrumphs, “…[A]ll becomes a sentimental, politically correct flashback…. Songs bang out, along with iffy lyrics and not-so-witty dialogue.”

Similar criticisms were heard on the American side of the Atlantic and yet the juggernaut that is Wicked continues to captivate audiences three years running. Will the same hold true for the West End’s Wicked? If the conversation Taylor mentions turns into word-of-mouth, then the answer is most likely a resounding, “Yes.”

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
West End Wicked Opens Tonight (September 27, 2006)
Wicked Witch of the West End Takes Flight Tonight (September 7, 2006)
Jaaku or Neikan? Wicked Set for Japanese Translation (July 24, 2006)
Five Times More Wicked (July 17, 2006)
Wicked's West End Witches Update (May 17, 2006)
Worldwide Wicked Casting News (May 5, 2006)
Encore: Spotlight Week Ending April 30, 2006 (April 30, 2006)

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