REVIEW: Wicked, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until October 27.
The first big show back after the Mayflower’s multi-million pound refurbishment needed to be something special. With the return of Wicked, Southampton has got something very special indeed.
But first the refurb – a make-over which gets it exactly right. We still feel we are in the Mayflower. All that we know and love about the Mayflower is still completely intact.
But goodness, it’s all so much smarter – and so much more comfortable. The beautiful new seats feel like someone has slipped a kiddies booster seat under your bottom. You feel as if you are sitting so much higher – and consequently the view is superb.
Part of the Mayflower’s slightly annoying charm was that in certain seats you had to peer between the heads of those in front of you. The revamp has put paid to that. We were towards the back and to the side – and yet still felt we had the best seat in the house, surrounded by the new rich reds which now bedeck the walls.
The Mayflower’s refurb has been sensitively, superbly done – all to enhance what we had already.
And so yes, we were sitting comfortably… and we let the magic begin – a couple of hours of one of the best, the cleverest, the most bewitching, the most intriguing musicals on the circuit, an ingenious reimagining of a back story to The Wizard of Oz, but a back story which takes us up to and beyond the events we know so well from the film… and invites us to look at everything afresh.
So now we know who the Tin Man is. And the Scarecrow too. And the good witch is apparently just a little tarnished – and the wicked witch is thoroughly exculpated. Both become infinitely more interesting.
Both are flawed and deeply human, young girls thrown together at school in an attraction of opposites which results in enduring friendship even when it all goes thoroughly wrong on the surface.
Inhabiting them on this latest tour are Amy Ross as Elphaba and Helen Woolf as Glinda. Both are simply outstanding, rich and magnificent performances, entrancing and beautiful, the whole thing wrapped up in the most wonderful songs.
A truly great night to launch a new era in Southampton.
SEE INTERVIEW WITH ONE OF THE STARS: https://www.chichester.co.uk/whats-on/music/get-ready-for-wicked-at-southampton-s-mayflower-1-8647337