Left – Jemma Rix and Lucy Durack
Wicked is a bedazzling night’s entertainment, resplendent with jazz hands, power-ballads and no shortage of exciting tableaux. The Broadway musical is a beast unto itself, and any production that brings its own themed cocktail to town is going to be hard to resist.
The whole concept being a prelude to Dorothy’s arrival is weaved together wonderfully but not too seriously, as the new premise still isn’t afraid to make fun of itself. As the hitherto untold story unfolds there are plenty of surprises, and the die-hard L. Frank Baum fans can rest assured the new additions don’t do any harm to their predecessor. In fact, there are quite a few subtle references to the original tale, which add much to its charm.
The two star witches steal the show hands down, Lucy Durack as Glinda and Jemma Rix as Elphaba have bubbling chemistry on stage and their cheeky banter is genuine and hilarious. Both their voices are simply infallible. Of course Bert Newton does his thing as he always has, impressing the audience with, well, his mere presence really. The sets, costumes and lights make for serious ooh-ahh factor; with as many set changes as a scenic tour, a moving red-eyed dragon atop the stage and more shades of green than you ever dreamt existed. The entire production is at the top of its class, the likes of which we are not often accustomed to here in Adelaide and the effect is beguiling.
Within all the glitter and pizzazz there is an occasional hint of cheese, perhaps it was the ribbon twirling and air-punching poses that gave me that sense. But then again, as your average Australian art critic I haven’t been privy to many comparable musicals of this scale, so perhaps I’m just not familiar enough with the razzle dazzle to truly understand.
My only disappointment was the lack of excess in the grand finale of the show. After Act 1, when Elphaba rises to the sky in a flowing shaft of faceted light, belting out that she’s defying gravity (subtle metaphor not intended), I was certain I should expect nothing short of pyrotechnics at the last hurrah. I have to admit I felt left hanging. Perhaps the end note was more a poignant message than a fireworks show, and to their credit that last number was particularly gorgeous.
In the end, Wicked didn’t win 35 awards for nothing, and I can guarantee the whole glamorous experience is a sensory feast of song, dance and story, not to mention the best dose of all things emerald that you can bet you’ll ever get.
Venue: Festival Theatre | Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Dates: 20 Apr – 4 Jun 2011
Duration: 2 hours 45 minutes
Tickets: $119.90 – $69.90