BWW Reviews: WICKED - Back To Its Very Best
A show that can continue to run for over 10 years worldwide despite wars, financial crises, and political unrest can be nothing other than a smash hit. There are few shows that can sustain such longevity and remain as remarkably fresh and true to its original product. The return Australian season of Stephen Schwartz's defining musical Wicked proves that this show will remain one of the greatest musicals of our lifetime. For while last night's opening in Melbourne felt very long there was always a single moment to remind us that we were watching a truly spectacular show, performed by an even more spectacular cast. It dragged in parts and flew in others. It was a rollercoaster of extreme highs and periods of flatness. Wicked's biggest strength, it's score, is also its greatest weakness in that dialogue seems so slow seemingly trudging to the next musical highlight. The magic of the score outweighs these mundane moments so overwhelmingly though that it is easily forgiven. It's hard to think of a greater end to Act I in any other musical than Defying Gravity, a more narratively driving opening than No One Mourns The Wicked or a more powerful dramatic moment in No Good Deed.
The Australian Cast, described by Stephen Schwartz as 'the best cast he has seen in years and years' lives up to its reputation and delivers a stellar performance. Jemma Rix as Elphaba is unstoppable. It's hard to think of a more faultless vocal performance from a leading lady. Every single note is placed to perfection and her acting performance matches the precision of her singing. Her rendition of Defying Gravity is only outdone by her rendition of No Good Deed. Lucy Durack's acting performance of Glinda is something special. Her every moment on stage is filled with energy and enthusiasm that radiates infectiously throughout the theatre. Her delivery of Popular is by far one of the highlights of the evening and her command of the nuance within the song is nothing short of brilliance.
Whilst Wicked is a star vehicle for its leading ladies, for its leading men it's slightly pedestrian. Reg Livermore as the Wizard and Steve Danielsen as Fiyero bring great strength to their characters. Their acting is sublime with detailed attention to the subtleties that are quite frequently glossed over. What Danielsen misses vocally as Fiyero he makes up tenfold with his charisma and overall gravitas. While Maggie Kirkpatrick as Madame Morrible speak sings an entire performance her presence is commanding and domineering and she adds another facet to the already brilliant acting performances alongside her. In addition Emily Cascarino as Nessarose and Edward Grey as Boq bring a youthful exuberance to their characters.
Musically, this cast of Wicked is sublime. Kellie Dickerson's musical supervision and David Young's musical direction deserve great credit. The ensemble sing with such accuracy and precision with dynamics used effectively for reason and purpose. Similarly, Wayne Cilento's unyielding Choreography, overseen by dance supervisor Emma Delmenico is as precise and compressed as you would wish to see.
What a gift it is for Australian audiences that the tour de force that is Wicked has returned to our shore. While you may have seen it before, whether at home or abroad this is a moment in time when you have to seriously consider what is before you. And what is before us is a magnificent show, performed by an inspiring cast, leaving us with an experience in which we couldn't be happier.
The Regent Theatre Melbourne