Lee's run in Wicked ended today after nine months playing Fiyero at the Apollo Victoria. As might be expected by those familiar with the way he approaches his work, he has brought something new to the role, and while a small number of long-time Wicked fans didn't entirely take to his more thoughtful portrayal, the resounding cheers he invariably received at curtain call could leave a neutral observer in no doubt whatsoever about how much it was enjoyed by the vast majority of the people in the packed houses the show continues to enjoy in its fifth year in London.
Also leaving today were George Ure (Boq, joining a Dutch tour of Hair) and Cassandra Compton (Nessarose) and several of the ensemble - Lewis Bradley, Lauren James-Ray, Matt Kzran, Danny Mac, Lucy Newton (joining Priscilla), Stevie Tate-Bauer and Sam 'Monkeyboy' Wilmott. Two cast members also left in recent weeks, when their commitments to new roles overlapped their run in Wicked - Sarah Earnshaw (standby Glinda, now in the UK tour of Jekyll and Hyde) and Jack Wilcox (ensemble, now in Shoes in the West End). They have all been fabulous, and contributed hugely to my enjoyment of this wonderful show. I wish them well in all that lies ahead.
To say I enjoyed Lee's last two shows would be a serious understatement, though tinged with the sadness that accompanies any goodbye, they were a fitting farewell to those leaving with the whole cast giving their all - both in the traditional 'muck-up matinee' and in the emotional final show which was the best I have ever seen it performed.
My thanks to Diana and Abs for these pictures of the final curtain call, which saw speeches from Rachel Tucker (Elphaba) and Louise Dearman (Glinda), tears from some of those leaving and, above all, immense appreciation from the audience. A short video of the speeches can be found on YouTube again thanks to Abs.
I look forward to seeing what comes next for Lee from an acting perspective, although 2011 is already filling up rather nicely on the music front, with the last few dates of his first UK tour in the coming weeks, plans for a third album, a second tour in the Autumn and his first international tour - to Japan no less - in December.
As ever, life for Lee Mead is going to be full ... just kick back and relax a while first, hey Lee :)
Last updated: 5 February 2015