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A Broadway musical based on the best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire

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Wickedly Entertaining Musical Theatre!

  • Jun 9, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+5
Having now heard the original soundtrack as performed by the American Broadway cast, and having attended a performance by the Australian Cast, I am completely blown away by the calibur of this musical!

I'll admit to being more than a little biased, and say that I liked the performance given by the Australian cast more, although the American cast is certainly nothing ot slouch at! but I find it interesting how similar and yet how different the voices of the two casts are. If you are yet to see Wicked, then this review contains spoilers!

My first impression of Glinda was "She's a moron!", but it quickly becomes apparent that she is everything that embodies the typical blonde stereotype... and you can't help but love her for it! As Glinda, Lucy Durack of the Australian cast has the most amazing vocal range, but has a slightly softer edge to her voice than America's Kristen Chenoweth, who also has a brilliant range in her voice, as is expected of an opera trained singer. Overall, they are both brilliant performers who have risen to the role perfectly.

The performance that I attended in Melbourne starred Patrice Tipoki as Elphaba, and both her and Idina Menzel were absolutely brilliant in their roles! Both of them completely blew me away with the power of their voices, especially in "Defying Gravity", which is probably the most powerful song in the show. "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" is another song that shows off their vocal ranges to their full extent.

I found Fiyero particularly impressive in the Australian production, mainly because I wasn't really expecting much from his actor. Rob 'Millsy' Mills, of Australian Idol fame, stunned me with his talent, because truthfully, I didn't think he had the capacity for musical theatre, but he didn't once disappoint me, and I now couldn't think of a better person for the role. In fact, he and Norbert Leo Butz sound incredibly similar, and both have the perfect voices for Fiyero.

Another character I really loved was Nessarose. Aside from having a fantastic name, she is a character that you can perhaps sympathise with as much as you can with her sister Elphaba. Both Penny McNamee and Michelle Federer did a fantasitc job of playing Nessarose, and again, they had similar voices that carried off the part beautifully.

As far as the Wizard is concerned, Australian icon Bert Newton replaced Rob Guest as the Wizard after the actor's tragic death in the middle of the show's run, and while Bert was not terrible as the Wizard, I'm fairly certain that Rob would buy and sell him any time. My only qualm about Joel Gray was that, from a purely musical point of view, he sounds too young to be a character is is older than most of the other characters.



The thing about Wicked is that it makes you completely adore characters that were previously the kind of characters that you love to hate. By giving them such an elaborate backstory, it is so very easy to love both Elphaba and Nessarose, and if you were anything like me, you were completely horrified when Madame Morrible dropped Dorothy's house on Nessa, even though you knew it was coming. Because, against all odds, the girl who became known as the Wicked Witch of the East was likable.
And I know that we were all inwardly cheering when Elphaba and the now straw and stuffing Fiyero eloped into the Otherworld, which meant that Elphie survived being 'melted' and hopefully lived happily ever after, green or otherwise!
And no matter how much of a 'dumb blonde' Glinda (or GA - linda) might have been, you simply had to love the fact that her voice rose about an octive everytime she got angry. the woman was hysterically funny, and her relationship with Elphie was the source of much laughter. "We can't all travel by bubble!" was one of my particular favourites!

And, wonder of all wonders, he merchandise was actually decent. I think my friend and I kept the the merchandise stall in business the day we went, we spent a lot! The innoventive cocktails known as Ozmopolitans were also a hit. They were bright green daquris served in plastic martini glasses that had glowing green stems. I think I drank about three (and lived to tell the tale!).


All in all, I would kill to get the chance to see this again. Unfortunately, Wicked closes in Australia in August, and I live in the wrong state... the one its not coming to. I feel very priviliged to have seen such a beautiful and fun production, and can only hope that in the future, as an aspiring singer, I have the opportunity to be a part of something as fantastic as WICKED!!!!!

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July 15, 2009
Great review - I really enjoyed the show too. I saw it in New York and the performance was one of the best I've ever seen.
 
June 17, 2009
Great Review Jaimi! This was very well written! I have always wanted to see Wicked and the fact that I haven't yet makes me sad :(. I loved the amount of detail you went into about these characters and how some of the ones that we don't necessarily like can be likable. I also just wanted to let you know that you can now share your reviews on sites like Facebook and Twitter using the share box at the top of your review. Also, even though they are two different genres, you might get a kick out of Spamalot!
 
June 10, 2009
definately go and see it when it comes back into town! it is so much fun! No, I haven't seen Legally Blonde, but it might be entertaining! My next stop is Jersey Boys!
 
June 09, 2009
Hey Jaimi - I read your review all the way up until the spoilers - but I just wanted to say that I cannot wait until I get the chance to see this when Wicked is on the road again. I guess this is what happens when you procrastinate on buying tickets - you miss the show! Have you seen Legally Blonde? The musical version has received some great ratings here on Lunch!
 
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More Wicked reviews
review by . February 25, 2010
Wicked is Wonderful. (There. I Said It.)
My reputation as a theatre professional may take a hit because of this review (because "goodness knows," true theatre people aren't supposed to appreciate "Popular" shows) but "I'm Not that Girl" - call me a "Sentimental [Wo]man" - Wicked leaves me feeling "Wonderful."      The prequel to "The Wizard of Oz," this musical tells the tale of two women - one born with green skin and shunned and the other beautiful and popular. …
Quick Tip by . August 04, 2010
posted in Music Matters
Such a great story and amazing music. Love the prequel-ness.
review by . December 23, 2009
Wicked, is wickedly awesome!
I went to see Wicked in Manhattan, New York. This was my 2nd time seeing wicked.  I could see it another one million times it is that good!  There was something for everyone in this show, and it was really entertaining.  The premise of the show is that there is background to the Wizard of Oz that you did not know about, and the entire show is basically a prequil to the movie.       The show is about the Wicked Witch of the West in all her green glory, …
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
Loved the book, LOVED the musical -- phenomenal songs, inspiring performances, great pace -- all around must see!
review by . December 05, 2008
I'll be honest- I'm a musical lover. Ever since I was about 11 years old, my favorite gifts from my parents have been tickets to some Broadway show that had made it's way to LA. When I heard that a modern musical based on a best selling novel was taking over my beloved Pantages, I was leery. When I heard of the insane popularity of said musical, I was even more so. If the great masses loved this show so much, it must be somehow inferior to "true" grand musicals.   Oh I was wrong.  Well-deve …
review by . June 18, 2009
Wicked
…the Broadway musical of course.   After reading Gregory Maguire's Wicked several years ago I could only imagine how they would bring the magic of Oz to the stage. I had to remind myself before the performance began that Broadway plays, for the most part, are family oriented and tend to like happy endings (neither of which described Wicked.) The musical did a fair job of sticking to the original plot while still remaining family friendly.    My one criticism was how …
review by . March 10, 2009
I appreciate all they had tried to do with "Wicked", being one of those musical theatre aficionados who laments the barrage of "juke box " musicals that have taken over in recent years.  I wanted to LOVE WIcked. It had a plot. Original music, composed by one of Broadway's finest.  It looked wonderful. The actors are top notch. However, I walked out feeling like something was missing.   What was it? It really did come down to the score. Although the music was original, it had …
review by . December 13, 2008
It might be because I saw the musical first.  It might be because I'm a sucker for a good happy ending.  It might simply be that I've always loved theatre more than literature.  Regardless, I have to say that I loved the musical version of "Wicked."  In all honesty, I barely even liked the book when I got around to reading it afterwards.    Now, to be fair, it might not be appropriate to compare and contrast these works.  Indeed, they are so different …
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Jaimi Hooper ()
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Member Since: May 2, 2009
Last Login: Aug 19, 2014 03:56 AM UTC
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The untold musical story of The Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good... before Dorothy dropped in. Based on the imaginative Gregory Maguire novel, Wicked takes a fantasy journey through the unseen side of Oz, sharing a tale of unexpected friendship and love.
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