Tuesday, 26 September 2017
Wicked - The Musical
Written by Michael Finn   
Tuesday, 22 July 2008 22:42
WICKED The MusicalLeft - Rob Mills and Amanda Harrison. Cover - Amanda Harrison and Lucy Durack


Upon taking your seat in the Regent Theatre it is hard not to be overwhelmed by the size of the setting and huge dragon towering above the stage. Wicked is a theme park ride of a mega-musical that weaves us through an exhilarating and heart rending journey.

Wicked offers a new and ingenious back-story to the Wizard of Oz, answering questions and mysteries affecting the original narrative. But don’t scrutinize the parallelism of both stories too closely or flaws may start to show. Just sit back and delight in this girl’s own adventure about the relationship between the witches in the tale.

Right from the spectacular opening number, our complacency is rocked. What we know as the fight between Good and Wicked is too naïve. The explication of things not proving as they seem reoccurs throughout this fairy tale. But the writers don’t let this serious allegory get in the way of a timeless story of friendship tested by jealousy and insecurities.

Two young girls from very different backgrounds collide at the exclusive Shiz University over the benefits of privilege, and the lure of popularity over principles.

Amanda Harrison is exquisite as the spirited and quick-tempered Elphaba. Soaring vocally, whether as a cry for acceptance or defiantly rejecting the way of the Wizard, Harrison excels in this role. She layers her performance with genuine warmth (shared with Dillamond) and a passionate intensity with Fiyero. Lucy Durack is a perky and self-absorbed Galinda, who is a feisty adversary cum best friend for Elphaba. Durack sparkles in Popular, insensitively eager to convert her roommate to the realms of the cool and accepted. Her flawless comic contributions relieve many tense scenes with impeccable timing.

The Ensemble are energetic and impressive in their supporting roles. Rob Guest charms as the showy Wizard of Oz, whose parental good nature hides his true motives. Maggie Kirkpatrick relishes her role as the quietly powerful Madame Morrible. Her dismissive manner thinly disguises her ambition and Kirkpatrick uses true venom to attack those in her path. Rob Mills is cheeky as the flunk out student Fiyero, who later reveals himself to be a responsible and righteous young man. Penny McNamee convinces as the tragically beautiful Nessarose, spoilt and needy witch. Anthony Callea is gentle and winsome as the Munchkin Boq, who finally takes a stand after being walked over by his fellow students. And Rodney Dobson gives a spirited and earnest performance as the victimised teacher Doctor Dillamond.

Wicked is a celebration of the creativity of composer Stephen Schwartz, librettist Winnie Holzman and novelist Gregory Maguire.

Wicked is at times like a tornado, it whips you into a fast paced, surreal experience with tenacious music driving the danger and unpredictability. The closing of the first Act soars to dizzying heights, not only musically but also with an exhilarating sense of fear and anticipation.

Schwartz’s score also thrills when Elphaba is distraught about trying to save her love in No Good Deed. He skillfully captures the euphoria of his characters in the passionate As Long As You’re Mine and The Wizard and I.

Winnie Holzman has written a very witty and imaginative book, no more fanciful than the original novel by L. Frank Baum. She draws characters that develop through the relationships and are influenced by their amazing journey.

The striking costumes by Susan Hilferty add much to create the fantastical imagery of the Oz. These dazzling designs are influenced by the illustrations of Dr Seuss and original "pictures" from The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz by W. W. Denslow.

Within the remarkable settings, Eugene Lee has succeeded in creating fresh images that yet have a familarity with Oz.

The enchanting lighting design by Kenneth Posner bathes the stage with a magical glow and intensifies the actors fervent emotions. It is refreshing to hear sound designed and executed so well that vocals are clear and lyrics decipherable. Kellie Dickerson's excellent orchestra supports the actors, never overpowering them

Musicals don’t get any more exhilarating or extraordinary than Wicked.

The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz

Venue: The Regent Theatre | 191 Collins Street, Melbourne
Dates: From 27 June 2008
Times: Wed – Sat @ 8pm, Sun @ 6.30pm
Matinees: Wed @ 1pm, Sat @ 2pm & Sun @ 1pm
Bookings: Ticketek
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Comments (19)

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I agree with the review on Wicked but the theatre was an extreme let down. Did you hear the cut offs in sound, did the persons head in front of you cut off more than half the stage! Did here. To pay 125ish dollars for an A reserve seat, i was very very let down.

Jacqui , July 22, 2008
Love it Love it Love it Love it Love it Love it. Seen it 4 times already and can't wait to go again. Amanda is absolutelty amazing.
Claire , July 24, 2008
I enjoyed the stage show immensley and we sat in b reserve. i was a little worried about sitting at the back of the theatre, back it took nothing away from the performance. My friend had the problem of not being able to see over the person in front and asked to move, which the threatre people graciously did. Well put together, with great twists.
Deb , July 25, 2008
Jacqui (comment 1), if the cut offs in sound you refer to happened during "What is This Feeling" I noticed it too but I think it was by design - ie: directed into the show to build strength into the song. That was probably the only part of the show I found less than impressive. The rest was excellent. Especially the efforts of Amanda Harrison.
Mark , July 30, 2008
I absolutely loves every bit of the production! I have been a fan of Wicked for over 5 years and our Australian cast is by far the best ever! Amanda's vocals are brilliant and the chorus dynamics are better than even the original recordings. Definatly go and see people! You will love it!
Cathryn , August 02, 2008
What a sycophantic love letter! I've seen "Wicked" in Melbourne twice now and while it is a great night out, as a long-standing fan of the show I can only say I was bitterly disappointed on both occassions. Amanda Harrison performs the whole show as if she's in-concert, with barely a reaction to her co-stars and most lines delivered out to the audience. She does not have the vocal range to do justice to the score and throws the dramatic power of "Defying Gravity" by grinning foolishly throughout. Both Guest and Kirkpatrick are decent but forgettable and the Australian Idol stars along with them.
The one shining star in the whole thing and the only reason I went back to see it again was Lucy Durack as Galinda. She dazzles! Her comic timing is impeccable and her performance delightful and intelligent. Just why everyone is raving about Harrison is beyond me. Anyone who has ever heard Idina Menzel or Stephanie J. Block belt out "Defying Gravity" or "No Good Deed" should be able to recognise that immediately!
She will be replaced soon hopefully with someone with a more powerful upper register.
David Nielsen , August 03, 2008
Right and what makes you think she will be replaced?
Ben , August 05, 2008
I totally disagree David, while I think Lucy is good, Amanda's 'No Good Deed' and 'Defying Gravity' gave me goosebumps...I have never heard anyone sing NGD with so much emotion and so powerfully. Amanda is the standout in my opinion and is why I keep returning to the regent to see it again and again.
Claire , August 05, 2008
I finally saw Wicked last night in Melbourne - and loved it. I agree with most of the points made here - including the emotion that Amanda Harrison packs into her performance without feeling the need to belt out every line - and I loved Lucy Durack as Galinda. However let's be honest - her performance is a moment-by-moment impersonation of Kristin Chenoweth in the role. Which is fine, because the role was written for Kristin, and she crafted it to perfection. So having not seen her play the role live, I did feel as though I was seeing the next best thing in Lucy Durack's performance. But I think to dismiss Amanda Harrison's performance in light of Lucy's dazzling and intelligent' interpretation of Galinda is unfair. I would call it "a delightful pastiche", admittedly carried out to perfection.
Sara , August 11, 2008
I flew my 7 year old and myself over to see wicked last week... and it did not disappoint!!!
Amanda Harrison is AMAZING.. I have heard the versions done by Idina Menzel and i TOTALLY disagree that she is better vocally, Amanda's performance bought both myself and my son to tears..
I am frantically saving to go again.
The theater was beautiful, we were 4 rows from front and had no issues with seeing- my son was offered a cushion to give him that bit better view.

The ONLY Dissapointment was that the cd available for purchase (which i did) is the English show and not our own wonderful actors!
Would love an Australian Cast Cd to be released as I agree with comment 5. Cathryn The Australian show is the best!

Go see it take your mums, your dads, your kids, you wont be dissapointed
Coby , August 20, 2008
I flew to Melb to watch the Sunday night show (Aug 17), and it totally met my expectations!

Having been listening to the original cast recording many a time, and having seen clips of the show on youtube, I was worried that I may have been spoiled the fun. But I was wrong! Amanda's voice was as good as Idina's, and the fiery with which she belted Defying Gravity and No Good Deed was just thrillifying!

Lucy was great as Glinda, and like many have already said her acting was sensational! All supporting cast were fabulous as well, which made the show even more enjoyable. You could tell they were all having a ball, which is what draws the audience in!

Merchandise was the only disappointment--couldn't bring myself to buy anything sadly! Ah well, at least I have the pictures and sounds in my brain! ;-)

For those who thought Amanda's voice was weak--I guess everyone has their good and bad days. I read on some forum that she wasn't feeling well for some of the early shows and had to take a break, so maybe that was why?
Isabella , August 25, 2008
Amanda was absolutely amazing - and she had a much better script to work with. So much of it was convenient and 2-d, didn't really seem to go into any real detail and actually tell a decent story! It was good, and the last scenes were amazing. Amanda's voice was amazing, and she was great - but i didn't really feel any energy from anyone except Amanda, Erin (Glinda) and Anthony Callea. Overall it was good, but i'd say thats about it, just good
Laura , August 31, 2008
For me the real show started with ?Defying Gravity? ? the Act 1 finale. If you want to hear those top E?s flat and with lots of heavy breathing then keep your recordings of Idina Menzel ? Amanda sang it effortlessly which is how all singing should ?seem?. Loved it! The second act was just as good ? a real WOW experience. Unfortunately some favourites like ?Loathing? and ?Popular? weren?t so impressive. I think Lucy was unwell as her speaking voice was husky and her singing held back, but even so she never once cracked on a note and still sounded beautiful. Mills wasn?t singing that day, but Callea was... I think. If he left an impression on me I haven?t found it yet. Still, it was a great show! It?s not the WOW experience The Lion King was, but a great show all the same!
Andrew , November 03, 2008
Look, I dont care what any one else said, the production for this show was AMAZING!... Oh my! My only two let downs was Lucy's poor poor interpritation of Galinda, and Robert Mills' attempt to sing theatre. I cringed every time Lucy sang, the timbre of her voice should be left to entertain dogs. There was nothing warm about it...
And Millie.... there was nothing to fall in love with... over acting and lack of vocal tenacity provides this audience member finding it hard to reach that pinical climax... overall I was still amazed by the whole show... its amazing.... just replace Lucy and Mills.... and everything will be fine!
Alex , November 21, 2008
I've seen the Australian Wicked twice after witnessing scenes from every available source.

The Australian production fully justified both Sydney -Melbourne return airfares.

The theatre was helpful, courteous and professional.

This story holds the perfect integral of the classic rags to riches Broadway musical coupled with 21st century style, structure, humour, visuals and musical movement.

Both Jemma Stevenson and Amanda Harrison brought unique magic to Elphaba dispelling the notion that cast members are simply mimicing Broadway.

Lucy Durack's ability revealed both a wide acting range and skilled improvisation.

I suspected I'd regret missing this but having seen it now I know I would have. I plan to see the show a third time.
Tim , November 27, 2008
i haven't seen it, but i really want to. my mum says she will take me when it comes to sydney, which i'm told is in DECEMBER!!! i can't wait that long. i have watched just about EVERY video on youtube
fiona , January 22, 2009
Flew from Sydney to Melbourene to see it...and would again!
Sam , January 24, 2009
Ok i dont care what any of these other comments are saying. I LOVED IT SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!!!
I cant even describe how much i loved it and oh my gosh, defying gravity was so great i got goosebumps and when it was over i would of done anything to rewing and see it again! I have seen it 2 times and am definetly going back a 3rd time! I would have to say my favourite by far was Amanda Harrison she is soooo great in the role of Elphaba and i just want to keep going back to see her. The second time i saw wicked Amanda wasn't performing and i was shattered, but her understudy, Patrice Tipoki was pretty good in the role of Elphaba as well!

Amazing show through out cant wait to see it again!
Shania , January 26, 2009
So, having gone to see Wicked on the 30th for the second time, I have to say I was slightly disappointed compared to the performance I viewed in July the previous year.

Simply, Amanda Harrison is fantastic and plays the character of Elphaba so flawlessly that the emotional connection comes naturally, bringing a tear to my eye at points. However, I did find the finale of Defying Gravity, the final little yell thing to be very weak, with Amanda hesitating significantly before doing so. Yes, a nitpick at best, but when you watch the likes of Menzel, it really is that final belt that cements the 'wow' factor of that scene.
Really though, Amanda is up there with the Broadway stars and deserves massive accolades.

Lucy Durack however, I'm not so sure. When I saw the show in July, she was hilarious in the role and an outstanding singer for the role. However the other night, I found many of her lines were spoken too fast and were inaudible. Several times my partner asked "What'd she say?" which I must admit can be very frustrating when it's the supposed 'comic relief' of a scene. That being said, her comedic timing is ace and when you can hear what she's saying, she's likely to have you giggling.
My major issue with Durack though, was her singing in this performance. When singing a solo, she was OUTSTANDING singing with beauty and ease. However, when singing with others in the cast and harmonizing, her voice would change completely into this somewhat screechy and airy voice. The constant transition between solo and screechy left a rather unpleasant impact, and really detracted from not only the general quality of her performance but also the overall quality of the show. This is a major issue, and I sincerely hope that by the time I view the show again, those responsible for Wicked have acknowledged this bizarre behaviour and have taken appropriate steps to help Durack overcome it.

Bert Newton is fantastic as the Wizard, presenting a flawless and memorable interpretation of the Wizard doing the role (and it's songs I might add) full justice. I personally prefer Newton to Guest, finding his persona, vocal presentation and overall performance more engaging. Kirkpatrick is amazingly sinister as Morrible, but unfortunately due to her medical conditions, is inhibited in her singing at times.

Mills is an amazing singer, cute and dorky Fiyero and a rather crap dancer, but crowds should find themselves warming to his boyish charm and characterization of Fiyero. Stuart Fisher is way too melodramatic for Boq, and he often tends to rush lines. Rather forgettable, but as he's only new he should grow into the role. Ross Hannaford (the understudy for Boq) is truly outstanding and a broadway quality performer in the role. (He ought to be in the role full time)

Nessarose is one of the standout performers of the cast, playing the role with exquisite precision and an amazing voice and presence. This girl is absolutely fantastic and definitely a rising star. The ensemble is fantastic with a wealth of outstanding talent, and will have you leaping to your feet in applause.

Sets, costumes, lighting and music are the most amazing thing I have ever seen in a theatre. This show is a marvel, truly one of a kind for it's production values alone. So much detail, time and effort have gone into it's construction, and it really shows through the presentation. You will spend a good 20 minutes taking in the set and it's intricate details alone, let alone the show itself.

All in all, a FANTASTIC show with a standout Australian cast in Melbourne that could rival the world, this is one not to be missed.

Go to Melbourne, you won't regret it. :)
James , February 01, 2009

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