Apollo Victoria Theatre, London
My Stage Story
I’ve been to see Wicked…12 times. Some people might think this excessive; I might be one of those people. I have rushed home and waited nervously (on a dial-up connection) to see whether I have won tickets to Idina Menzel’s final performance. I have stood outside the theatre at 8am queuing for day tickets five times. If I had to, I could probably recite the entire musical – not just the singing parts. I am that person.
Most recently, my fervent dedication meant that on a freezing cold morning in December, on the one day during the Christmas period that I didn’t have to be awake early, I dragged my other half and two dogs out to the theatre to queue for tickets. It was the 27th December and I had not yet been to see Wicked that year, my clock ticks were quickly slipping away.
We got there just before 8am, and of course we weren’t even the first people there. Two people were stood freezing on the step staring into the foyer hoping they would open soon. As a veteran of the day ticket scene I advised them that they were stood in the wrong place and let them know that nothing was going to happen until 10am, bless them – they’d been there since 7am. Within 10 minutes another three people had joined the queue.
There is a camaraderie that develops amongst Day Ticketers. The vast majority aren’t Brits, so the tendency to look straight ahead and not make eye contact, is somewhat lessened, but even when there are Brits in the queue, something magic happens – you begin to talk to each other. You discuss which other shows you’ve queued up for, you tell them which of the casts has been your favourite (because chances are you’ve seen it before), you quietly congratulate each other on waking up at the crack at dawn when you see latecomers counting how many people there are in front of them, and you offer a smile of consolation when they realise the chances of them getting a ticket are slim. And when you finally get your hands on that ticket you wave goodbye to your early morning companions and tell them that you hope they enjoy the show and that you’ll probably see them later.
In the evening, when you are sat all warm and comfortable in that theatre, with the green lights of Oz and the dragon sleeping quietly above the audience, waiting for the opening bars of ‘No One Mourns the Wicked’, thoughts of how numb your bum was from sitting on cold steps are forgotten, and you remember exactly why it is always worth it. Every note, from the opening “Good news!” to the final “No one mourns the wicked!” comes together to tell a wonderful story of how you can change a person, how easy it is to be misunderstood, and how the most unexpected of friendships can be the most important of your life.
I look forward to performance number 13.
Gemma Jacob is a writer based in London and currently has several projects, including a comic book, at various stages of production.
Image credit: writer’s own