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wicked

Lucy Durack and Jemma Rix (c) Jeff Busby
Lucy Durack and Jemma Rix (c) Jeff Busby

WICKED is a prequel to The Wizard Of Oz and the plot unfolds in the years leading to Dorothy’s arrival. It is the tale of two unlikely friends: Glinda the Good, a role reprised by the outstanding Lucy Durack, and Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West, played by the exceptional Jemma Rix.  They form a bond in College which leads to different destinies. Glinda is popular and beautiful while misunderstood Elphaba was “born different”, that is, she is green. One friend is seduced by power whilst the other remains true to herself.

The musical begins with the citizens of Oz celebrating the death of the Wicked Witch as Glinda arrives. The remainder of the plot forms an extended flashback of the lives of the two women.

Elphaba journeys to the Emerald City to meet the wonderful wizard who is, in contradiction, not so wonderful as he has rendered the animals of Oz speechless. The wizard is played to the hilt by Reg Livermore.

WICKED is a moral tale; the crux of it being that one shouldn’t judge others on their appearance. Its premise that good will conquer evil is very apt in this changing world of extremism, fanaticism and terrorism. The narrative is also about forgiveness and the acknowledgement that people make mistakes. It sets the audience thinking about what it really is to be wicked.

The show’s director is Lisa Leguillou and the musical director is David Young. The live orchestra were brilliant, showcasing the musical score which is heavily thematic. Music and lyrics are by Stephen Schwartz, based on the book by Winnie Holzman.

Maggie Kirkpatrick is resplendent in her costume designed by Susan Hilferty as Madame Morrible who comments, “Never apologise for talent” and “When one door closes, another door opens.”

Steve Danielsen plays Fiyero, the love interest who creates rivalry and is in fine form.

Credit is also due to Glen Hogstrom as Doctor Dillamond, Emily Cascarino as Nessarose and Edward Grey as Boq who all comprise the principal cast. They are supported by an extremely talented ensemble of male and female actors, singers and dancers.

The sets are stunning and are designed by Eugene Lee. The audience is greeted by an enormous dragon perched high above the stage which adds to the magic and mystery of the show.

Comic moments are numerous. One of Glinda’s opening lines is, “It’s good to see me, isn’t it?” (She later ponders, “Why does wickedness happen? Are some people born that way or is wickedness thrust upon them?” Elphaba says, “No I’m not seasick. I’ve always been green).”

The dialogue is moving and heartfelt. Glinda states, “There is no fight we cannot win”, and “People come into our lives for a reason.”

Special mention goes to Kenneth Posner who is the lighting designer. His effects are dazzling.

The momentum is sustained in Act Two and ends to rapturous applause and a standing ovation.

The running time of WICKED is just under three hours including interval. WICKED is playing the Capitol theatre is from September 20 into next year.

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