Wicked, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review
***** 5 Stars
“Truly Defying Gravity”
The Edinburgh Playhouse lays claim to being Scotland’s Broadway and it truly delivers on the promise with this stunning, big hearted and often emotional new touring production of “Wicked”.
Wicked tells the untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two young women who first meet as sorcery students at Shiz University: the blonde and very popular Glinda and a misunderstood green girl named Elphaba. Following an encounter with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, their friendship reaches a crossroads and their lives take very different paths. Glinda’s unflinching desire for popularity sees her seduced by power while Elphaba’s determination to remain true to herself, and to those around her, has unexpected and shocking consequences for her future. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz ultimately see’s them fulfill their destinies as Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.
Wicked has wowed audiences in the west end and on Broadway and embarks on its second major UK tour and what a production it is. The show requires a strong pairing for the leads and Helen Woolf as Glinda and Amy Ross as Elphaba truly deliver a unique and special take on the characters. Woolf injects Glinda with rich humor and ditzyness and full throated vocal that insures she makes the role all her own. Amy Ross takes “Elphaba” to new heights with a performance that’s emotionally honest and true. With a voice that rings around the massive Playhouse auditorium especially during the Show stopping act 1 closer “Defying Gravity” it’s a breath taking moment the showcases the very best of musical theatre.
Joining the leading ladies, in a charming take on the role of “Fiyero” is the utterly gorgeous Aaron Sidwell, who has a voice as warm as honey and a acting patter that truly sees him embrace the role and it radiates across the audience. Kim Ismay delivers a beautifully judged take on “Madame Morrible” the villain of the piece, it shy’s away from panto tactics and elevates it to a shining example of character acting. With Steven Pinders excellent turns as the Wizard and Dr Dillamond, Iddon Jones sublime “Boq” and Emily Shaw as “Nessarose” this is a cast that can outshine the west end resident company.
The production elements are quite simply the best on tour with a stunning set by Eugene Lee the takes the audience deep into the world of OZ with great detail. A gorgeous and atmospheric lighting design by Kenneth Posner the glows every colour of the rainbow to the rich emerald green that’s the beating heart of the show. Susan Hilferty’s costumes are the knockout punch of the production with intricate detailing you could watch the show one hundred times and still spot a new costume you’ve never seen before such is the attention to detail.
Wicked has what must be the best modern musical score for a generation with Stephen Schwartz music and lyrics reaching the heights of “ Defying Gravity” to the emotionally charged “ For Good” whilst also finding space for the ever bubbly “ dancing through life”. Schwartz is aided by Winnie Holzman’s amazing book, that while paying homage to Baum’s original wizard of oz including several visual nods throughout the show, the book is brave enough to set Wicked in a reshaped world of its own.
Director Joe Mantello should be proud of this visual feast of a new production combing a stellar cast and excellent creative team to deliver the best night of musical theatre available.
The greatest achievement of “Wicked” is the parable to today’s world. The story of acceptance and being who we truly are is not lost on the audience and is highly commendable. We do all seek the friendship that changes our lives for good. Who can say if “Wicked” has truly changed musical theatre forever but one thing is for sure, it’s changed it for good!
Musical theatre should move, educate and engage us in many ways, Wicked delivers on all three in a big way, so what you waiting for?, fly down to the Playhouse now and get those tickets before its too late!
Wicked!, Edinburgh Playhouse, Runs until Saturday 9th June 2018 for tickets go to: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/wicked/edinburgh-playhouse/