Wicked returned to the Australian stage, the magnificent Capitol Theatre, after a ten-year hiatus. When I received tickets to see the show I was overwhelmed, especially when I arrived at the theatre and learned that I was to be seated in the dress circle, with a perfect view of the stage. What an exciting night it was! I was bug eyed as I stood in the foyer watching all the beautiful people who had come out for the opening, stars across all genres milling about and me playing, “Oh, I know that person, who is that familiar face?” I thought I saw a face I recognised as a personal friend and was about to gallop over to say hi when I realised that it was Wendy Harmer. I doubt she would have been too pleased to be greeted by a complete stranger as though we were blood sisters.
Wicked is the untold story of the Witches of Oz, before the arrival of Dorothy. It tells the story of Galinda, who becomes Glinda, The Good Witch, and the Wicked Witch, Elphaba.
The show was scripted from the original novel written by Gregory Maguire. Gregory tells a little of the origins of both his novel and the development of the script in the program for Wicked.
“But Wicked was never meant to be a mere riff on a classic story, an improv bit of American midrash. Nor was it a Carol Burnett style parody. When Stephen Schwartz approached me about the proposal for a play, he let me know immediately that he understood that the story’s comic potential would serve as counterpoint in Wicked’s more serious intentions. Winnie Holzmann and he would stake their project on my novel’s concern for something else”. By “something else” Gregory means the uses of propaganda and the “consolation of valor”. The mix of comedy and the underlying theme is both clever and entertaining.
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Lucy Durack plays Glinda, the Good Witch; Jemma Rix, is Elphaba, the Wicked Witch; the inimitable Reg Livermore, as the Wizard of Oz and Maggie Kirkpatrick plays Madam Morrible, the school principal.
(An interesting aside on the name of Elphaba, Gregory explains, is that it comes from the name of the author of the original “Wizard of Oz”, Lyman Frank Baum, hence L.F.B, Elphaba)
Lucy and Jemma have a wonderful chemistry together in their respective roles and their comedic skill was hilarious. Maggie Kirkpatrick and Reg Livermore are equally amazing in their roles and so funny. The entire cast was magnificent. Everything about this show, from the fantastic stage settings, the lighting, the live orchestra, the songs, the clever script, the humour was beyond superlative. For me, the highlight of the show was the song, “Defying Gravity”. I cried, to my embarrassment, until I saw that those seated around me also had a slight tear and a quiver of the lips.
If you have the opportunity to see Wicked, then do so because it is wonderful, truly beyond what I am able to convey here. I had a fabulous time, laughing, crying, being completely dazzled by the entire performance and as I made my way home I found myself singing out loud some of the catchy tunes.
Thank you to Susan Kinson for writing this review.
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Have you see Wicked? Or will you be going along while they are in Sydney this year and Brisbane in 2015? What is your favourite musical of all time?