It was a Thursday. A fairly unspectacular Thursday dedicated to swotting at home when a particularly spectacular email plopped into my inbox. ‘You are invited to…’ the subject line read and like most emails my mind flitted to, ‘oh spam’ but then I read on to see the sentence ending…
‘WICKED the Musical.’
It couldn’t be real. Why? What?! HOW DID THEY KNOW? Somehow someone must have known that I would want to see Wicked and that I more than certainly had been planning to review it. My response was a combination of confusion and high-pitched squeaking, you could say I got a little bit Glinda.
Cut to the following Thursday and I was at the media call for Wicked the Musical. Here we were able to take a few snaps, hear a few stories and watch a few sneaky songs of the show. If I wasn’t excited to see Wicked before that, I certainly was afterwards.
Finally it was Friday. Wicked day. I had a Smashbox makeover voucher so I got myself prettied up, threw on a new dress from Boohoo Boutique and headed out the door by blue bubble cab to the Civic. Both within and without the theatre was throbbing, almost bursting with excitement at the number of people making their way in. Armed with a Degreenifier (delicious green tequila and citrus slushy) and my cute boy I made my way to our seats, down in the stalls nearly bang in the middle! With only a few minutes to spare, Wicked was ready to begin.
The Show Itself
I think it is safe to say that we all know the story of The Wizard of Oz. But do you know what happened before Dorothy dropped in? In 1995 Gregory Maguire brought the story of the Witches of Oz to life in his novel, ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.’The novel quickly won the hearts of people the world over (myself included) and in 1998 composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz talked Maguire into letting him write Wicked The Musical. In 2003 the show officially launched and quickly took off.
Broadly Wicked The Musical is the story of Elphaba’s ascension from green misfit to the Wicked Witch of the West but at it’s heart it’s a story of the unlikely friendship between two strong willed girls. It’s the story of how Elphaba was not wicked, she was simply misunderstood.
Before I continue, I must emphasise that this review is absent of hyperbole. Without an inch of a doubt Wicked is the most astounding, mind-blowing, exciting show that I have ever been lucky enough to watch.
It’s only to be expected, I mean look at the numbers – In the ten years that Wicked has been running it has won 3 Tony’s, 1 Grammy and 6 Helpmann awards. There are currently 9 productions of the show around the world and this production in particular is put together with 23 containers worth of gear including 69 wigs, 54 scenes and locations and 350 costumes. It is a production of epic proportions. Having made nearly US$3 billion dollars over the past ten years I think it’s safe to say that this could become one of the greatest musicals ever.
It’s not all smoke and mirrors however. Opening with No One Mourns The Wicked, Wicked quickly proved to be strong in story, song, choreography and most importantly talent. Having listened to the Original Soundtrack with Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth numerous times I knew the songs were great but Jemma Rix and Suzie Mathers as Elphaba and Glinda respectively blew my expectations out of the water. I may suggest (basing this purely off YouTube recordings) that these Australians outshine the originals themselves.
Jemma Rix is suitably cynical with pipes beyond compare (and effortlessly makes green look beautiful). Suzie Mathers meanwhile lives up to the promise of Glinda the Good as someone to inspire and excite the populace. Bubbly, gorgeous, energetic she provides a great counterweight to Rix’s Elphaba. They are supported by Jay Laga’aia as the Wizard, Maggie Kirkpatrick (Madame Morrible), Steve Danielsen (Fiyero), Glen Hogstrom (Doctor Dillamond), Edward Grey (Boq), Emily Cascarino (Nessarose) and a chorus of 26. It is a strong cast but there is no doubt that Rix and Mathers are the stars.
The set is insane. There is no other way to put it. Based around the Clockwork Dragon (a theme that is prominent in the book, but not so explained on stage) it is framed by a great dragon at the head of the proscenium with wheels often in the background. We tried to count the major changes but only managed to reach 15 before losing track. Apparently there are 54 scenes and locations and each have their own distinct light and mood. My favourites include the Ozdust Ballroom, the forest in which Elphaba and Fiyero sing, ‘As Long As You’re Mine’ and the Bridge scenes. From twinkly lights to swirling haze, every possible state is covered. And if you’re wondering, the shadows are pretty nice.
It’s been a while coming but Wicked may be the production that makes me admit that I actually do like musicals. From the boy holding his hands over his face in amazement to the tracks beating through my brain incessantly ever since it is officially the best thing that I have ever seen. And I don’t think that this call will be limited to lovers of the arts. Wicked is such a spectacle that I would recommend it to everyone. It’s appeal is unlimited.
That being said I would get in quick. Wicked runs until the 24th of November with the last block of tickets going on sale today and I am sure that it will sell out. (I’ve already got another lot of tickets booked for later in the season)