It's just wicked
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.
PHOTOS: Wicked UK & Ireland tour with Amy Ross as Elphaba, Helen Woolf as Glinda and Aaron Sidwell as Fiyero © Matt Crockett
A welcome Wicked return to Bristol
PREVIEW: Wicked, the West End and Broadway musical phenomenon that tells the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz, is returning to Bristol Hippodrome.
The spectacular, multi record-breaking and critically acclaimed touring production seen by more than 70,000 people during February-March 2015 run is booked for the city theatre from Tuesday to Saturday, February 6-March 3, 2018.
Tickets go on general sale from Wednesday, February 1, 2017.
Executive producer Michael McCabe said: “We were overwhelmed by the incredible response from audiences and critics alike when we first brought Wicked to Bristol in February 2015, and it is extraordinary to think that so many came and saw us.
"The whole team at the Bristol Hippodrome showed such tremendous enthusiasm and support, and we’re all really delighted to begin our return journey at this magnificent venue in this great city."
Bristol Hippodrome general manager Jenny Hutchinson said: “I am absolutely delighted that audiences in and around Bristol have another chance to see Wicked, a true West End blockbuster!
"Wicked was so popular on its last visit in February ’15, it was the talk of the town.
"Although we’ve only just welcomed in the New Year, we can’t wait until Glinda and Elphaba fly back into Bristol in 2018.
"My advice, book early.”
Wicked tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two sorcery students and their extraordinary adventures in Oz, which will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.
Based on the acclaimed, best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire that ingeniously re-imagines the stories and characters originally created by L. Frank Baum in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Wicked has become a global phenomenon featuring astounding technical wizardry, stunning costumes and show-stopping songs by three-time Academy Award winner Stephen Schwartz.
To read Nailsea People review of previous Bristol Hippodrome performance click HERE.
STOP PRESS: Due to overwhelming demand after tickets went on sale in January, the spectacular, multi record-breaking and critically acclaimed touring production of Wicked will now fly in to the Bristol Hippodrome on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 for an extended five week run until Saturday, March 3, 2018. One of the most successful productions in the venue’s history, Wicked was seen by more than 70,000 people during its celebrated engagement in February-March 2015.
PHOTO: Bristol launch with Helen Woolf (Glinda), Amy Ross (Elphaba) and Aaron Sidwell (Fiyero)
Photo credit: Darren Bell