Wicked returns to Edinburgh for the current UK & Ireland tour and amazes once again. Since its premiere on Broadway in 2003 it has drawn in audiences all over the world with its continuing success. It is now Broadway’s second-highest-grossing show of all time and it’s not hard to see why!
Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman’s stage adaptation of Gregory Maguire’s novel depicts the origin story of the Wicked Witch from the East, and acts as a prequel to the 1939 classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland. The story is set before, during and after the story of the film. It centres around the green-skinned Elphaba, a smart and headstrong girl, and Glinda, a privileged and slightly airheaded girl who are thrown together as roommates in college.
The story follows the two girls and their unique friendship as they try to find their places in Oz, and Elphaba’s ultimate fall from grace. It offers a different perspective on the origins of the villain, who turns out to be misunderstood and mistreated by the population of Oz. It is a tale of friendship, love, diversity, and respect. It makes for a glittery and fun show with a deep message. Paired with amazing songs, like the show-stopper Defying Gravity or the quirky Popular, this musical truly has it all.
Amy Ross’ Elphaba is truly spectacular. The vocal powerhouse brings a vulnerability and depth to the character that pulls the audience in and really makes them empathise with her. Helen Woolf’s interpretation of Glinda the Good is a hoot. Having most of the funny lines and comic scenes, her Glinda is not ditzy and one-dimensional, but big-hearted, multi-faceted, and truly funny. Ross and Woolf bounce off each other and have a great chemistry on stage, with their voices harmonising beautifully.
Kim Ismay as Madama Morrible and Iddon Jones as Boq also deliver amazing performances and manage to stand out in a truly great cast and company. However, although Aaron Sidwell’s Fiyero and Steven Pinder’s Wizard are ring true to the essence of their characters, they are easily overshadowed by the strong leading ladies. The character of the Wizard got the quintessential springy song that most older male characters get to perform in musicals, but it was the only song I, personally, wasn’t crazy about. However, Pinder did a great job breathing life into the character.
The set and costumes are absolutely stunning, from the giant animatronic dragon hanging over the stage to the vivd and sparkly costumes of the Emerald City – it is a visual treat throughout. There seemed to be slight technical issues as the orchestra sometimes overpowered the company but that didn’t take anything away from the experience that is Wicked.
Wicked has all the ingredients for a great musical: smashing songs, a glittery stage, a dramatic love story and lots of fun. It is a definite must-see! So, put your green goggles on and immerse yourself in the emerald wonderfulness of Wicked!
Wicked runs in the Playhouse from the 8th of May until the 9th of June before continuing their UK & Ireland tour in Leeds.