This was the first of a three show weekend in London to celebrate Mother’s Day. I booked this show specifically to see Emma Hatton play Elphaba, and Jeremy Taylor play Fiyero. They were both on stage the first time I ever saw We Will Rock You, Emma as Scaramouche and Jeremy as Teacher/Ensemble, and I had the pleasure of meeting both of them on numerous occasions.
After an uneventful trip to London we checked in at our hotel (if you can call it that – it was a room with a bed and a sink. Do NOT stay at the County Hotel on Upper Woburn Place, unless you fancy sharing a toilet and a bath with the entire floor. The only reason I didn’t switch hotels there and then was because I knew we wouldn’t be spending much time in the room) and headed to Victoria. I didn’t even bother with the Underground with it being 5:30pm on a Friday night in Central London, but the bus ride took so long that the meal at Zizzi’s we had planned was replaced by a hasty King of the Day each from the Burger King in Victoria station.
We were seated in the circle – row Q – which gave us a very impressive view of the entire stage. I was on the end of the row which got more and more annoying as the show went on because of the constant stream of people who showed up late (my biggest pet hate – it’s so rude!) I had already warned my Mum that I was probably going to burst into tears the moment Emma ran on stage in all of her emerald green glory, and I was right. I was just so damn proud of her! As she belted out her first big song “The Wizard and I” the tears were streaming down my face. The last time I saw her as Meat in We Will Rock You I was staggered by how much her voice had developed since she began Elphaba rehearsals, but that was nothing compared to this – she was absolutely sensational.
I had just about recovered when on comes Jeremy Taylor as Fiyero. I am beginning to think they paint those jodhpurs on – every woman in the room was following his every move! I know Jeremy as a very sweet and shy person, so to see him on stage strutting his stuff as the arrogant prince was a real treat. Jeremy would be my sixth Fiyero, and he blew the others out of the water. His “Dancing through Life” was cock-sure and confident and the entire audience (including me) was putty in his hands. I know from watching him in We Will Rock You that he is a brilliant dancer, and he made the tricky choreography look effortless. And that voice! I never had the chance to see Jeremy as Galileo (he was second cover after Scott Monello) so this was the first time I had ever heard him sing on his own – he really is exceptionally talented.
I have to admit I didn’t take to Savannah Stevenson’s G(a)linda at first because she plays it very differently to Gina Beck who I was very fond of, but she totally converted me during her rendition of “Popular” – she had me in stitches as she pranced around the stage. As the story progressed I fell more and more in love with Emma’s portrayal of Elphaba. She is a very talented actress and gave Elphaba a cheeky edge that I hadn’t seen before.
I knew I was in trouble as soon as I heard the first note of “Defying Gravity.” I felt a familiar lump rise in my throat and I tried to choke back the tears, but as soon as Emma’s voice rang out “it’s not her, she has nothing to do with it. I’m the one you want. It’s me! IT’S MEEEEE!” I was gone. I’m getting teary now just thinking about it! As I watched Emma rise up the entire theatre disappeared – I was absolutely captivated. She attacked the song with such power and force and belted out note after incredible note until I thought she was going to burst right through the ceiling. As she thrust her broomstick into the air and let out that final riff, I didn’t breathe. I didn’t even notice the tears streaming down my face; all I could see was Emma. As the curtain came down and the house lights went on I felt cheated – bring her back!
I rang my friend Sarah who had also seen Emma as Elphaba but I literally couldn’t speak – I was totally dumbfounded. I knew Emma was good but bloody hell! Then Sarah reminded me – I still had Elphaba and Fiyero’s duet coming up. My mascara can’t take much more of this!
I have to say that, apart from Defying Gravity of course, the scene between Boq and Nessa Rose in the second act is my favourite. It’s so intense and Katie Rowley-Jones and Sam Lupton are amazing – how they transform themselves from the young, eager students in the first act to the hard, bitter people they are in that scene never fails to amaze me.
Before I knew it, Elphie and Fiyero had run off together and it was time for their duet – “As Long as You’re Mine.” As I have said before, Jeremy was the sixth actor I had seen play Fiyero, and I was fed up of weak-voiced Fiyeros getting drowned out by incredible Elphabas. My first Fiyero was Matt Willis and to be honest I didn’t even realise it was a duet he was that feeble. But Jeremy? Wow. He more than held his own against Emma’s strong voice and, not only could you actually hear him, but the intensity and the emotion between the two of them was so strong it took your breath away.
After the show, I dragged my Mum to the stage door to wait for Jeremy and Emma. I had warned her that Emma could be a while seeing as she was currently painted green and that I would wait for as long as I had to. As well as getting a long-awaited hug from Jeremy (I’d not seen him since the We Will Rock You cast change last October) I also had the pleasure of meeting Savannah Stevenson and Martyn Ellis, who stepped in as The Wizard of Oz in January 2014 when Sam Kelly had to withdraw from the show due to ill health. After finally having my programme signed by a very tired-looking Emma Hatton it was time to leave and get some sleep before a two show day tomorrow.