Theatre Review: Wicked

With multiple awards stacked on its broom and legions of fans both munchkin and adult sized, Wicked hits Dublin - but has it brought the magic?

Poster for the stage show Wicked with an animated Glinda the Good Witch whispering in the ear of Elpheba, a green skinned Wicked Witch

Wicked the musical has been running on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre since 2003. It’s the winner of over 100 major international awards including three Tony Awards on Broadway and two Olivier Awards in the UK. With all that in mind, could the bar have been set any higher for a touring production?

Well, if you haven’t seen a musical before, or you THINK you don’t like them – take a chance on Wicked at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

The Wizard of Oz! Let’s start with that. As any good Friend of Dorothy will know, The Wizard of Oz is an integral part of LGBT+ herstory; famed and adored for being a campy classic starring gay icon Judy Garland. Based on the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, this is a re-imagining of the Oz tale, set before, during and after Dorothy’s ruby tipped trip up the Yellow Brick Road – but this time we see things through the eyes of the Wicked Witch of the West and her frenemy, Glinda.

Glinda (played by Helen Woolf), is our opening narrator, calming and reassuring a hoard of angry Ozians that the Wicked Witch is dead. “According to the Time Dragon Clock, the melting occurred at the 13th hour; a direct result of a bucket of water thrown by a female child,” she cries. From here she goes back to the beginning of their story asking: “Are people born wicked, or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?” We learn how she and Elphaba – the Wicked Witch (played by Amy Ross) – shared a heart-wrenching and intertwined history.

All of this is set to an emotionally poignant and dynamic score by Stephen Schwartz, recipient of three Oscars, four Grammys, a Golden Globe and an Honorary Tony Award. The music will not disappoint in the slightest and is only elevated further by the incredibly beautiful voice of Amy Ross, who sails through her high register with virtuosity. As an audience we get a big, full sound from the band and ensemble, with quirky layered harmonies and exciting rhythms. Each singer is note perfect.

Wicked Dublin MPU

If this show wasn’t such an incredible visual spectacle, you’d even consider closing your eyes and just listening to the music. But don’t be tempted because we’re indulged with a gorgeous array of wildly textured costumes and visual trickery. You’ll see acrobatic movement and choreography that’s thematically connected and changing throughout, harmoniously flowing from scene to scene. And the set that is a cleverly scaled down version of what can be seen in London without appearing so. It’s polished, it’s entertaining, it’s brimming with talent. Is this really on in Dublin?

Go see it… if you can get a ticket.

© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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