I’m feeling positively Emerald! – Wicked: My Review

WICKED_Groupline_900x600 Dear fellow Ozians… As Wicked celebrates its ninth year in London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, becoming the 10th longest running show currently playing in the West End, I went along to find out more about this green phenomenon that has already played over 3,500 performances in London alone!

Based on Gregory Maguire’s 1995 global best-seller ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’, this musical shows you a different side to the story in the legendary classic, The Wizard of Oz, and tries to make the audience understand why things may have turned out the way they did. When we think of Oz, the trio of witches or the wonderful Wizard, we instantly picture the 1939 film starring the fabulous Judy Garland as none other than Dorothy, who makes some unlikely friends as she tries to make her way back home to Kansas from this magically unusual land. Unbeknownst to many, this film is actually an adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s children’s novel published over a century ago, called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – so this 156 page story has inspired many other books, musicals and films since its release in 1900! Photos from Blog Which leads me to the thrillifying wonder that is Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz! From Chistery’s first excited screech signalling the opening number, right through to the last note sung in the finale, I was transported to a crazy land where anything is possible and, quite frankly, anything goes! We go back to a time before the Wicked Witch of the West, otherwise known as Elphaba, was born and even then, it was far from plain sailing for the Thropp household. Now with her sister, Nessa-Rose (later known as the Wicked Witch of the East) wheelchair bound and without a mother to care for them, their father sends them off to boarding school. This is where the story really gets started!

I’m not going to give you a run through of the entire show as I don’t want to spoil anything, but what I will say is that the soundtrack for this musical is absolutely flawless! Every single song is on point and the lyrics really are an extension of the story. Plus, I feel like many of the songs are incredibly relatable to so many individuals at so many moments in their lives (but I guess this could be put down purely to interpretation). But, for example, the lyrics in probably what is the most widely known Wicked score, Defying Gravity, are the empowering words “Something has changed within me, something is not the same. I’m through with playing by the rules, of someone else’s game… It’s time to trust my instincts, close me eyes and leap”. This can be applied to so many realisations that inspire people to create a new start for themselves… it’s so Ozmopolitan! Approved_Wicked_DefyingGravity_FullStage_7510 I also loved all of the clever little references made towards one of the most famous adaptations, The Wizard of Oz – the flying monkeys; lion, tin man and scarecrow; a nod to the saying “lions and tigers and bears… oh my!”; Glinda’s transportation bubble; the poppy field; the Wicked Witch of the East’s stripy socks and jewelled slippers; Dorothy and her famous dog; as well as the most iconic Dorothy saying of all time “there’s no place like home”.

Another thing I’d like to quickly touch on is the theatre itself. Built in 1929 as a cinema, this grand stage has been the platform for many hit musicals including The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof and of course Starlight Express. But you can really tell that Wicked has taken over this venue and it’s not just clear in the first shop in the main entrance either. The entire foyer is lit with a green tint, the theatre’s largest shop (and the majority of the other merchandise booths found throughout) are called the ‘OzDust Boutique’ and the most divine little bar found upstairs, is called ‘The Elixir Bar’. I mean there isn’t a thing these guys haven’t thought of!

Photos from Wicked 2

Now just wait a clock tick… it is evidently clear as to why Wicked has been seen by over 47 million people across 13 different countries, and has won over 100 awards internationally. This year, Wicked won the coveted This Morning Audience Award presented by the Olivier Awards, which is the only award that is decided by us, the viewing public. Wicked went up against Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical, Billy Elliot The Musical and Jersey Boys, and a few weeks before the winner was announced, costumes from each show-stopper were on display in a small shop just off Covent Garden. I can’t believe how tiny some of the waists are on the dresses – how do they take a deep enough breathe for some of the notes they belt out?! 2015-04-11 14.26.21 I really did enjoy my one short day in the Emerald City and left the theatre feeling very empowered, as if I could conquer the world! Also, to have two women as the lead characters (and with such powerfully fine-tuned voices, capable of giving so much light and shade, and conveying emotion perfectly) was refreshing, too. I want to send the hugest congratulotions to the cast and crew for putting on astounding performances eight times a week! Now, if you haven’t seen it… what are you waiting for?! Go and get your tickets and rejoicify in the magic that is truly WICKED!

I’m off to this years NTA’s… again!

As a few of you may remember, last year I was given the opportunity to photograph the celebs on the red carpet at The National Television Awards in London’s iconic O2 Arena. I had so much fun and everyone I met was so friendly and not snooty in the slightest! This year, I’m heading back to the famous spikey dome near the Thames, just unfortunately without a red carpet pass. That said, it will still be a fantastic evening – who wouldn’t want to be at such a big live event and get access to the VIP after party?!

Me again with the giant NTA! (2014)
Me again with the giant NTA! (2014)

This year, I have voted for the following programmes and celebs who I’d love to see win:

* Most Popular Talent Show – I love both Strictly Come Dancing and The Voice in equal measure, but in the end I opted for The Voice as I was lucky enough to attend last years live semi-final and it was an absolute blast! Plus, Strictly won last year so I thought I’d give someone else a chance.

* Most Popular Serial Drama – Coronation Street won last year due to the outstanding performances from both Julie Hesmondhalgh (who played Hayley) and David Neilson (who plays her husband Roy). It was an incredible story line, which gripped the nation. However, this year I voted for Eastenders as it is the only soap that I actually watch properly and have done for many years.

* Most Popular Comedy – I voted for the same programme as last year, The Big Bang Theory! As many people already know, I am more or less obsessed with this show and desperately want to see it filmed live in LA. However, last year the award understandably went to Brendan O’Carroll’s cracking show, Mrs Brown’s Boys, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if they won it again this year.

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Mrs Brown’s Boys: Brendan O’Carroll with his wife (but onscreen daughter), Jennifer Gibney! (2014)

* Most Popular Drama – Unfortunately, I don’t actually watch any of the nominated drama’s that made the shortlist this year (Cilla, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey and Sherlock), however I think I gave my vote to Cilla in the end as Sheridan Smith is just so talented! Last year, not surprisingly (as Matt Smith was the most incredible Doctor there has ever been!), Doctor Who beat Downton to the award, although I’m not too sure they’ll be able to do that for a second year running.

Most Popular Drama Performance – This was one of the easier votes to give. Sarah Lancashire played the most incredible character in the BBC’s captivating programme Happy Valley. Plus, she is a superb actress anyway! That said, she is up against Benedict Cumberbatch…

* Most Popular Factual Entertainment – I’ve always been a huge fan of Paul O’Grady, so to see him scoop this award for the second year, with his adorable show For the Love of Dogs, would be absolutely fantastic! However, the popular (not with myself I must add) programme Gogglebox, where you watch people watching TV (?!?!), has somehow found itself in the ‘Factual’ category… I’m sorry, but how could this programme possibly be factual?! Unfortunately, I think this one will regrettably win.

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The wonderful Paul O’Grady with two of our Junior Photographers! (2014)

* Most Popular Daytime – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a year where This Morning hasn’t won! Don’t get me wrong, after watching Phillip Schofield’s 24 hour live TV challenge to raise money for the Text Santa appeal last year, he is one of the greatest TV presenters on our tellies. However, even with that in mind, I decided to give The Chase my vote this year as I’ve recently really enjoyed watching it and I end up learning so much from it, too. Sorry, Schofe!

* Most Popular Newcomer – This again was an easy one for me, as I think this actress brings much needed comedy to soapland. As soon as Maddy Hill (who plays Nancy Carter) stepped onto the square – or should I say carried over the shoulder of Danny Dyer’s character – I knew she would become one of my favourites and I’m overjoyed to see that she has made the shortlist! Last year I predicted correct in this category, with ‘Enders Khali Best (who plays Dexter) scooping the award – I even had the opportunity to congratulate him at the after party!

The gorgeous Maddy Hill!
The gorgeous Maddy Hill! (2014)

* Most Popular Serial Drama Performance – From one Carter to another, my vote was given to Danny Dyer, who again brings so much comedic value to the show as Queen Vic landlord Mick Carter. The two together are quite the double act and even though to begin with I was rather apprehensive for Dyer’s entrance, I’m so pleased the Carter family joined the cast!

* Most Popular Entertainment Programme – This was a tricky one as all four programmes are equally great in their own right. However, I think I voted for Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway this time because it’s the one I watch the most of. Either way, Ant and Dec have a 50% chance of winning this award as I’m A Celebrity is also nominated (and the show actually won last year, too).

Most Popular Entertainment Presenter – Since Ant & Dec won this category last year, as well as the award above AND the 2014 Landmark Award, I decided to give my vote to the hilarious (and on many occasions inappropriate) Keith Lemon. I absolutely love Celebrity Juice and thanks to this programme, played the funniest party game with my American relatives… Don’t Show Keith Your Teeth!

* Most Popular Chat Show Host – This was another category in which I found it extremely tough to decide who to give my vote to – I literally enjoy watching every single nominee! Since they are all worthy winners, I had to alter the question slightly… “Who would I most like to meet?”. Even though I very briefly asked Alan Carr last year if he would have a picture with our Junior Photographers and thanked him for it afterwards, I’d still really like to meet the hilarious Chatty Man properly. Et voila!

The wonderful Alan Carr with our Junior Photographers! (2014)
The wonderful Alan Carr with our Junior Photographers! (2014)

* Most Popular Multichannel Programme – As I briefly mentioned a few categories ago, I find Celebrity Juice addictive and very much a feel good show, as it never fails to make me laugh! However, and this is probably the biggest however I will make on this post, it is up against the incredibly popular Game of Thrones. So in theory, it unfortunately has absolutely no chance on winning!

* Most Popular Skills Challenge Show – This was a coin flip between The Apprentice and The Great British Bake Off (not that I actually had a coin handy – typical!), as I thoroughly enjoy both. Thus having no coin to flip, I decided to vote for Bake Off as not only is Mary Berry the sweetest lady I’ll ever meet (albeit briefly at, none other than, last years NTA’s), but Mel and Sue’s comedy narration throughout is just pure genius!

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The adorable Mary Berry in our photographers limelight! (2014)

* Most Popular TV Judge – Surprise, surprise, I voted for Mary Berry for this category, too! I don’t watch X Factor anymore since both Nicole Scherzinger’s and Gary Barlow’s departure, so that cut the shortlist in half right there (both Simon and Cheryl were nominated). I then dismissed David Walliams as I thought that he probably has lots of different awards for numerous things – although he does seem like lots of fun!

So those are my predictions/hopes ahead of next weeks National Television Awards – I can’t wait to see who wins! Also, if you’ve made it all the way to the end, thank you very, very much!