Modern classic Wicked offers Wizard of Oz backstory

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It’s a real something-for-everyone musical, says Laura Pick who is on the road as Elphaba in Wicked, which plays Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre from May 23-June 16.

The show famously offers a beguiling backstory and future possibilities to the lives of L Frank Baum’s beloved characters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, revealing the decisions and events that shape the destinies of two unlikely university friends on their journey to becoming Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

“There is so much that makes it so special,” says Laura. “The music is amazing and the costumes are sensational and the technical side of it all is astonishing. There is something that everyone can connect with even if you think you don't particularly like musical theatre or theatre. People are dragged along by people in the family and they just end up loving it.

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“I first joined the show in London in 2017 as stand-in Elphaba. I wasn’t on so much at the beginning. The longest time that I didn't get to go on was maybe about six weeks but it's your responsibility to keep on top of it and just practise it in the dressing room and always be ready.”

Laura Pick (Photo by Matt Crockett)Laura Pick (Photo by Matt Crockett)
Laura Pick (Photo by Matt Crockett)

Laura's chance did come in the end but only to be snatched away cruelly: “I took over the role in 2020 and only did a couple of months officially before we were closed down. It was so hard. But we all stayed in touch. We had zoom meetings and catch-ups with a glass of wine in hand and you just did what you could. It was just a question of waiting and trying to keep busy but when we did get to start again, that first night is a night that I will never forget. We started up again in 2021 and it was the first time back in the theatre. The audience were just so excited to be there. There were cheers and there was applause and it was just wonderful. We were finally back on stage doing what we were supposed to be doing and doing the thing that we love doing. I was with it another six months to finish my contract.”

Laura's been out on tour with it now since December, obviously a different experience to West End life: “The West End became home. We knew where everything was and you just got used to it but being on tour is a whole different thing. There are a few people in the company that I knew before but it's a whole new company and there are different people at every venue who work in each theatre… and you aren't sleeping in your own bed!” But inevitably the reward is the role: “The exciting thing is that you are telling the untold story. She is the Wicked Witch of the West but it's how she became that person and whether she is really wicked. This is her story of how she came to be who she is and why. I think she's a very special character. She has always been bullied all her life because of her colour, because she is green but she does get to show her other side. I think she is just misunderstood. She is someone who cares about all the right things and doesn't really always think before she acts. She is passionate and she just wants the world to be a good place.”