Wicked sweeps into Sydney!

Review: Wicked the Musical sweeps back into Sydney




The Sydney Lyric Theatre, Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, Sydney

The story:

WICKED soared onto Broadway 20 years ago, and knocked Sydney’s socks off on its first run here in 2008. The statistics are phenomenal; it has been seen by 65 million people in 16 countries around the world, has been translated into six languages, is the fourth longest-running show in Broadway history, has won over 100 major awards including the Grammy Award, the Olivier Award, six Helpmann Awards and three Tony Awards. And I have never seen it … until now.

Which is weird, because I love musicals and have seen nearly all the best ones. But not WICKED. The 2003 musical created by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman, is based on Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. It looks at how the Wicked Witch of the West actually morphed into that legend. Set in the Land of Oz, it tells the story of green-skinned Elphaba (Sheridan Adams), and blonde bombshell Glinda (Courtney Monsma), who are opposites in just about every way. But somehow, they strike up a beautiful friendship which is severely tested, including by the nasty wizard (played by Todd McKenney), and by Madame Morrible (Robyn Nevin), who does the Wizard’s bidding. But the friendship lasts, riding all kinds of storms, and it does warm the heart.

Courtney Monsma and Sheridan Adams in WICKED (c) Jeff Busby

The show:

Flying monkeys and a dragon, a talking goat for a school teacher, and funny “Ozian” words that are confusifying. I didn’t know that WICKED would be funny, but it is. I particularly loved Courtney Monsma as Glinda (or is that GA-linda), whose sense of comedic timing is absolutely perfect. I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job on Popular – she smashed it out of the park. The exuberant One Short Day is excellent, and the HUGE act one showstopper belongs to Elphaba, and oh my, Sheridan Adams lifted the roof off the Lyric with Defying Gravity. Her voice is strong, pure and velvety, and I didn’t want the song to end. She is a massive talent and Idina Menzel is on notice – she might have to give up her Elphaba crown as the best ever.

Sheridan Adams and Courtney Monsma in WICKED (c) Jeff Busby

In the second act, the friendship between the two leads is truly tested, and good is pitted against wicked everywhere except in the hearts of Glinda and Elphaba. Their bond is fitting in today’s world, think about how Australia embraced the Matildas, the messages coming through loud and pink in Barbie; girl power is coming to the fore.  Even a ‘stolen’ boyfriend, Fyero (Liam Head), who turns from a seemingly vacuous lightweight moron to a lover worth casting a spell over. So the sisterhood stays strong, and secrets are kept.

My absolutely favourite number is For Good, about how their friendship has changed both of them for the better, and this song should come with a warning: you will find yourself singing it for days afterwards. I am still singing it now.

The other warning? Take a hanky.

Wicked, Sydney Lyric, Courtney Monsma

Courtney Monsma, Liam Head and Ensemble in WICKED (c) Jeff Busby

What I loved:

The set is excellent, the costumes exceptional – Glinda’s wardrobe is divine – very princessy, the cast an all singing, all dancing wonder. Even Todd McKenney gets to show his twinkle toes just a little.

There are so many great messages to take home from this production, about looks, not judging people, and how a perceived act of kindness can really make a difference. But the power of friendship is the enduring message you take home with you. It really can change you for the better.

Sheridan Adams as Elphaba in WICKED (c) Jeff Busby

Booking information:

WICKED is playing at the Sydney Lyric Theatre until 31 December. Get tickets HERE