I sat in a dark room in London, tears pouring down my face. The words I heard shouted out could not have been more apropos to me. “Too late for second-guessing; Too late to go back to sleep; It’s time to trust my instincts; Close my eyes and leap!” It was an amazing night out in London’s West End. I was watching Wicked!
Four years ago, I quit my job, packed up my few possessions and left everything behind. I had chosen to follow my dreams and travel the world, inspiring others to follow in my footsteps. I had no wherewithal, itinerary or support, but I wasn’t going to let anything hold me back. “It’s time to try; Defying gravity!”
London was the first stop in my travels. I remember walking through Hyde Park, the snow softly falling on my head and shoulders, letting the tears fall freely as I contemplated a whole new life ahead of me. I’ve since been back to London many times, and each time I find something new to fall in love with. After spending years in Los Angeles, I’m not the biggest fan of big cities, but London does hold some wonderful gems. Not the least of which are located in London’s West End.
I’m no stranger to watching plays and musicals. I saw my share at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. Yet I was completely clueless about Wicked, which spent years performing at said theater. I knew it had some correlation to the Wizard of Oz, but that’s all.
On my last trip to London, I decided to treat myself. I was heading back to SE Asia soon, and I wanted something fun and unique. I decided to watch a musical in London’s West End. Encore lists all the shows and makes booking a ticket simple. Some of the highlights included The Lion King, Matilda, Les Miserables, and Wicked. I opted for the latter, simply because it was the one I knew least about. How’s that for going into the unknown?!
Wicked was, and still is, performing at the Apollo Victoria Theater, directly across the street from the Victoria Train Station. The theater was built in 1930 and began showing musicals in 1981, starting with the Sound of Music. Wicked debuted at the Apollo Theater in 2006 and has been performing there ever since.
As I sat there listening to Defying Gravity, I realized it wasn’t the first time I had heard the song. I soon recalled that it had been used by a contestant to win the golden buzzer on Britain’s Got Talent. But I’d heard it somewhere else too. Suddenly I had it. It had come on during a playlist Youtube had generated while I was playing “Let it Go” from Frozen, another one of my favorite songs. The Demi Lovato version has a line which also hits me hard, “I know I left a life behind but I’m too relieved to grieve.”
Suddenly everything came crashing together. Defying Gravity sounded remarkably like the original version of Let it Go. Yep, Idina Menzel, the star of Frozen, actually got her start on Broadway…or rather London’s West End. Her first big production which got her a Tony was Rent, soon followed by, you guessed it, Wicked! And she performed it at the Apollo theater, right where I was enjoying it years after she had been replaced. Oh what I would have done to see her deliver an original performance, but her replacement did a wonderful job too. There’s also something magical about watching the show where it was first produced, utilizing all the original sets.
Well, hopefully I’ve inspired you to follow in my footsteps and watch a musical or show in London’s West End. Maybe you’re sitting in America thinking that’s way too far away, too expensive, and not worth it. Well, did you know you can find round-trip flights from the States to London for as little as $250? Use Skyscanner to find cheap flights, Airbnb or Agoda to find a great place to stay, and book your tickets for your musical or show with Encore. After all, it is possible for Americans to take a weekend break in Europe. If you still don’t think that’s worth it, then I’ve just failed miserably to inspire you. I sure hope that’s not the case.