Review By: Freya Parr
Image Credit: Crown Perth
The most awarded new musical and number one Broadway show WICKED has finally come to Australia, and it is just as brilliant as one could expect.
If, for some reason, you have been living under a small rock for much of musical theatre’s history, the plot focuses around the untold story of the witches of Oz, an alternative perspective to the fairytales we take for granted. WICKED tells the story of two unlikely friends, and the trials and tribulations they face, which ultimately lead to them becoming Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.
From the moment we stepped into the Crown Theatre, we felt as though we really were entering a magical place. Entering on the green carpet, surrounded by cast members dressed in the most intricate costumes, set the tone for the rest of the performance. The show is quite literally everything you could wish for from a full scale musical production. After having already seen the show once on the West End, I was worried I would be disappointed in case it didn’t reach my expectations. However, Perth’s rendition has perfectly mirrored the standard of the international arena.
The set is elaborate, and stretches right out into the audience, with an interactive dragon head that moves around and sets the show off with a bang. The costumes are like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The transition into the land of Oz was unbelievable – the overwhelming sight of green is incredible. With 350 costumes used throughout the production, it is clear that no expense has been spared, and it’s a joy to watch such a professional performance, which hooked the audience from start to finish.
If you are unfamiliar with the music of WICKED, no level of description can equal the magic it creates for audience members. Pop onto Youtube and prepare to be amazed. Having repeatedly watched Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth as the original Broadway Elphaba and Glinda, I had no idea how the Australian cast would match up to their unbelievable talents. I need not have worried. Suzie Mathers was the perfect Glinda; with the perfect balance of annoying smarminess and likeability, she delivered the lines with comic timing and excellent delivery. Her voice could not have suited the part better, and her range was jaw-dropping. However, ultimately what we were all waiting for was the end of Act 1 and Jemma Rix as Elphaba to smash out the hit number from the show, “Defying Gravity.” I had not thought it possible, but I would boldly say that her delivery exceeded that of Idina Menzel. The way she teased the audience, holding back her incredible belt until the climax of the piece, was utter brilliance. I could not flaw the performance of either actresses.
It is testament to the show that one cold Monday morning I shuffled into a lecture with dread, because the subject matter was that of complex feminist methodologies, a subject I had done absolutely no research upon. However, the lecturer begun proceedings by saying, “on the weekend I went to see WICKED, and it blew my mind to the extent that I have decided to base the lecture around feminist methodologies in popular culture, focussing on this particular musical.” She then broke into a solo rendition of “Defying Gravity”, and it proceeded to be the most fantastic hour of my life.
I apologise for the overexcited nature of this review, but I cannot implore anyone enough to go and see WICKED. Not only is it one of the best musicals ever written, but Perth has delivered a surprisingly brilliant interpretation of it, and made the most of this opportunity.