Wicked the Musical @ Regent Theatre 2014: A Reflection (22/5 & 17/8)

Vibrantly Exhilarating, Spellbindingly Beautiful and…Green. 

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(picture from http://www.facebook.com/wickedinoz)

As part of the 10th Anniversary celebrations and to mark six years since it last greenified our theatres, Australia is once again graced by the beauty that is Wicked the musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman.

First stop is none other than the Melbourne Regent Theatre where the creative team led by director Joe Mantello brings the Wicked Witch of the West origin story alive.  Having missed out six years ago and hearing constant raving comments on the story, the catchy and playful songs, the vibrant and attention-to-detail costumes as well as the outstanding stage set; I knew I had to go this time round and experience it for myself.

Wicked, based on the novel by Gregory Maquire, acts as a prequel and alternative telling of the well-known story: Wizard of Oz.  Wicked tells the story of an unlikely friendship formed by misunderstood, rebellious outcast Elphaba (later known as the Wicked Witch of the West) and the beautiful and popular Galinda (later known as Glinda the Good Witch) as well as the truth behind the Wizard. On the surface, Wicked has all the elements of the light heartedness of a romance comedy – it was basically the perfect “chick-flick” with a touch of “Disney-esque” magic thrown in; but when looked further, it has deeper layers which reflect and challenge themes including social norms, peer pressure, political manipulation and propaganda as well as isolation and persecution of those who are different.  By incorporating several layers in a musical, Wicked has catered itself to audiences of all generations and ages.

There was truly no better choice than casting Jemma Rix as Elphaba and Lucy Durack as Galinda (Glinda). Their acting; their vocals; their stage presence and professionalism; like Ying/Yang, completed each other perfectly.  As a result, they were able to seamlessly execute each scene and crucial moment of the show while enabling Schwartz’s music to be projected beautifully across the theatre and creating a unique chemistry which reflects flawlessly the friendship of Elphaba and Glinda.

To complement these two leading ladies, triple threat (Singing, Acting, Dancing…and most likely more…) Steve Danielsen is cast as the charismatic-exploding Fiyero along with veteran theatre legends Maggie Kirkpatrick and Reg Livermore as Madame Morrible and the Wizard respectively.  Additionally, 2013 Rob Guest Endowment finalist Edward Grey as Boq and all-rounder Emily Cascarino as Nessarose along with an incredible ensemble who played a great variety of roles, ranging from students to flying monkeys to citizens of Oz completed the full Wicked company (Note: Edward Grey was absolutely amazing as Boq when I saw it the second time in July but special mention has to be given to ex-Jersey Boys Dion Bilios who was Boq when I saw it the first time ever in May…and yes, I saw it two times, it was THAT good, don’t judge me).

Wicked is truly a wonderful musical for musical theatre lovers and most likely one of the best choices for any first time musical theatre goers. The story is captivating, the songs are easy to get stuck in your head and by the end of the show, you’ll learn life lessons and come to understand that things are never always what it seems and there is always more than one side to a story.

You’ll laugh, there’s plenty of “aww” moments, and although you might get a bit teary, you’ll find yourselves singing on trams, at work, in the showers and everywhere else in between constantly…what more can you ask for?

Wicked has finished its run in Melbourne [insert sad emoticon] but it is making its way across Australia.  For more info, head to http://wickedthemusical.com.au/

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