A lead leaving their role in the West End is always an upsetting yet exciting time. More often than not, you’re saying goodbye to an incredible lead and welcoming in the unknown. However, when six people leave their roles on the same day it makes for an interesting adventure.
On Saturday 22nd July, Wicked said goodbye to six cast members including the three leads: Willemijn Verkaik (Elphaba), Suzie Mathers (Glinda), Oliver Savile (Fiyero), Mark Curry (The Wizard), Idriss Kargbo (Boq) and Sue Kelvin (Madame Morrible).
Some of these roles have been taken over by people that are already familiar to their roles. Firstly, Alice Fearn is the new Elphaba and has been the understudy. I haven’t seen her myself but I’ve heard only good things about her portrayal of Elphaba and her talent. I’m looking forward to seeing a new Elphaba since she is superseding three big name leading ladies; Willemijn Verkaik, Rachel Tucker and Emma Hatton. The misunderstood Elphaba is not an easy role to take on, and one of the most challenging roles in the West End at the minute. She has some seriously big shoes to fill, but a new Elphaba may just be a breath of fresh air.
Bradley Jaden has taken on the role of heart-throb Fiyero and has already played the part internationally as well as in the recent UK tour (Bradford). His voice is definitely a force to be reckoned with so it’ll be interesting to see how he and Alice duet in “As Long As You’re Mine”. Oliver Savile has been my favourite Fiyero to date but I’m thrilled with Bradley. He’s fresh off the boat from touring Wicked and is bringing the most experience of his role with him to the new cast.
Sophie Evans (Glinda) has not had a couple of years experience in the West End and within the world of Oz after spending some time as a stand-by Dorothy in Lloyd-Webber’s “The Wizard of Oz” and spent 8 months in the role full-time. I hate to admit I’m getting tired of the old talent show contestants currently making appearances in various shows and, with “Over the Rainbow” and “The X Factor” both under her belt Sophie is no exception. I hope she proves that I’m wrong to get tired of it!
Melanie La Barrie, Andy Hockley and Jack Lansbury are all new to their roles as Madame Morrible, The Wizard and Boq respectively. Melanie and Andy come from huge musical theatre backgrounds; Melanie in “Les Misérables”, “Matilda”, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Mary Poppins”, Andy in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “Phantom of the Opera” and “Hello, Dolly!” to name a few so I’m confident neither will disappoint in their new roles.
The new cast as a whole really intrigues and excites me, and I’m really keen to see how they have each interpreted their characters and, hopefully, bring something fresh to the show. There’s only one way to find out how the new cast are getting on… Back to the Victoria Apollo I go!!!