Review: WICKED at Regent Theatre

Whether you have seen Wicked before or not, this revival is well worth a night out at Melbourne's Regent Theatre.

By: Mar. 10, 2024
Review: WICKED at Regent Theatre
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Wicked flies back into Melbourne’s Regent Theatre with both a new generation of Australian Musical Theatre talent and some existing Australian theatre icons as well. Remaining wonderfully witty and popular, Wicked’s timeless themes around self-empowerment, appearance versus reality, accepting those that appear different, critical thinking, and the cost of achieving a dream, keep Wicked’s message feeling as relevant and fresh as ever. 4.5 STARS.
 
Wicked tells the “untold true story of the Witches of Oz” and is based around the book by Gregory Maguire. This blockbuster of a musical has won over 100 major awards, including a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album, three Tony Awards for its original 2003 Broadway production, including for Best Scenic Design and Best Costume Design, and six Drama Desk Awards. Wicked’s West End production, which opened in 2006, has won an Olivier Award, and here in Australia, the original 2008 Australian production, won six Helpmann Awards, and four Green Room Awards. Such is Wicked’s success, it has been seen by over 65 million people, in 16 countries and 100 cities. This has resulted in Wicked being translated into six different languages, and at the end of this year the first part of a film adaptation of Wicked, is set to be released, starring Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba and Ariana Grande as Glinda.   
Review: WICKED at Regent Theatre
Courtney Monsma, Sheridan Adams ​​and Ensemble.
Photo by Jeff Busby

Growing up as a musical theatre loving teenager, to say I was obsessed with Wicked is an understatement. Just ask my mum! I would listen to the soundtrack on my ipod as often as possible, and when it came time to see the original 2008 Melbourne production at the Regent Theatre, seeing Amanda Harrison as Elphaba ‘defy gravity’, felt like a spiritual experience. Having lost count of the exact number of times I have seen Wicked since then, it therefore felt slightly surreal to be returning to the Regent Theatre to see Wicked, come back to life once again.

Stephen Schwartz’s powerful and emotion evoking score remains as iconic as ever, and William David Brohn’s orchestrations, and Alex Lacamoire and Stephen Oremus’ music arrangements really are simply stunning. Winnie Holzman’s book still feels entertaining, as she cleverly weaves the original Wizard of Oz story into Wicked, just from a different perspective. Lisa Leguillou’s direction, as informed by the original direction of Joe Mantello, ensures all the crucial marks of the show are hit, and Wayne Cilento’s musical staging is as beautiful as ever. What always has made sure, and continues to make sure, that the audience falls in love with Wicked, is the culmination of Eugene Lee’s marvellous set design, Susan Hilferty’s magnificently lavish costumes, and Kenneth Posner’s magical lighting design. When Elphaba ‘defies gravity’ at the end of Act One, all these elements come together to make Elphaba’s flying descent to the top of the stage feel mesmerizingly powerful. There is a reason that “Defying Gravity” has become probably the most iconic musical Act One finale in contemporary musical theatre.

Review: WICKED at Regent Theatre
Sheridan Adams Defying Gravity
Photo by Jeff Busby

Making her debut in a lead role, as the mistakenly understood ‘green girl’, Elphaba, is Melbourne-born Sheridan Adams. Wow can Sheridan Adams sing. Her portrayal and rendition of Elphaba in “Defying Gravity” and “No Good Deed” is one of the best I have seen yet. Equally strong and fitting into his role perfectly was Liam Head as Fiyero, whose acting was strong. Liam Head also showed impressive vocals when singing “Dancing Through Life” and in the Act Two duet “As Long as Your Mine”, alongside Sheridan Adams. Courtney Monsma as Glinda, was a little bit more hit and miss for me personally, although the audience did seem to love her. While there is no doubt that Monsma is a talented performer, given her other work I have seen, her comedy choices in her portrayal of Glinda did not seem to land for me, coming across instead, a little forced and overbaked. Monsma’s singing however was strong throughout the show and in Act Two her portrayal of the more dramatic side of Glinda was authentic, which showcased her strength as an actor. Shewit Belay as Nessarose was strong in her supporting role and I must say I was equally impressed to read in her bio, not only is Belay a performer, but also a practising medical doctor!

Regardless of whether you have seen Wicked before or not, this recent revival is well worth a night out at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.

Review: WICKED at Regent Theatre
Courtney Monsma, Liam Head ​​and Ensemble.
Photo by Jeff Busby



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