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Review BH Wicked 2018

It's just wicked
Review BH Wicked 2018

Think you know the story of The Wizard of Oz? Think again! This month, the Bristol Hippodrome welcomes the Tony Award winning show Wicked to the stage; a gripping story of Elphaba, the Witch of the West and her journey towards becoming… wicked.
Opening with a familiar scene, we are greeted by the beautiful and serene Glinda the Good Witch, played by Helen Woolf. Floating gently above Munchkinland in her glistening bubble, she gleefully announces the welcome death of the Wicked Witch as villagers celebrate beneath her.
When asked, “Glinda, is it true you were her friend?” we are instantly transported back many years to when the two witches were students. It is from there that the story of friendship, rivalry, injustice and romance is told.
Wicked escorts us through time, from the moment the two girls met, to the iconic scene where Dorothy melts Elphaba with a bucket of water, and beyond… It encompasses a whole host of universal themes, from a shared love interest in Price Fiyero, to multiple issues surrounding prejudice, beauty and the truth that lays behind the perceptions of good and evil. Not only that, but it cleverly blends with the original story of Oz, and we finally understand why the Tin Man lost his heart, why the Lion had no courage and what the Scarecrow did after meeting the Wizard. We even end up feeling a little bit sorry for those flying monkeys…
Amy Ross as Elphaba was superb. Portraying an initially self-deprecating, good-humoured and caring student, Ross successfully transformed Elphaba’s character into a confident, ambitious activist who, ironically, rejects much of the evil found within the status quo and branches out to try and make the world a fairer place. Her character’s contrast with Glinda was intriguing and challenging, giving the audience much to think about in terms of our own definitions of goodness. Both lead voices were spot on, with each number including the much-loved Defying Gravity delivered perfectly.
A character worth noting is Doctor Dillamon, played by Steven Pinder. As the last talking animal to work at the witchcraft and wizarding school attended by the two witches, the prejudice he experiences lays a path for Elphaba that ultimately creates her destiny. Doctor Dillamon’s problems could be representative of a multitude of discriminations within our own societies, offering up questions like: Can we really trust what we are told by those deemed to be an authority? And if not, what can we do about it?
Director Joe Mantello did well to ensure that this production of Wicked was enjoyable for audiences of all ages, and this certainly reflected in the crowds. Many grandparents with their grandchildren were in attendance, all of whom appeared to enjoy every moment of this suspense-filled musical.
The set design by Wayne Cilento and Eugene Lee, as well as costumes by Susan Hilferty helped to bring the magic to life, with each scene feeling immersive, captivating and effervescent. The orchestra led by Dave Rose delivered the recognisable score flawlessly, which was helped along by Tony Meola’s impeccable sound design.
Wicked has been created to not only mesmerise and entertain, but to open you up to a whole new perspective on one of the most well-known stories of our time. The characters are likeable, themes relatable and the take-home message is one that will change the way you see The Wizard of Oz forever. For this reason, the show is thoroughly recommended to everyone and anyone.
As an aside spotted in the theatre were Noel Edmonds, Justin Lee Collins and some X factor people - and the piano bar packed with camera crew and green screens for interviews. Never seen that before.
In the audience too were lots of Nailsea people including almost the whole Nailsea School music department - pupils and staff.

Emma Rowlands

PHOTOS: Wicked UK & Ireland tour with Amy Ross as Elphaba, Helen Woolf as Glinda and Aaron Sidwell as Fiyero © Matt Crockett

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