Left – Steve Danielsen and Jemma Rix. Cover – Jemma Rix and the Ensemble. Photos – Jeff Busby
Storytelling is such an important part of our culture – it defines who we are and who we would like to be. Magical storytelling, to my mind, is even better, as it allows our imagination to roam free and portray people who we feel may be evil, or good, or somewhere in between: a definition of sorts; a blueprint or map to show us the way. Good and evil, who knows ‘witch is witch’, and there is always all that middle-ground to swallow us up, too!
Wicked – The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz, deals with this middle-ground admirably, in a contemporary fashion, where pathos, humour, moral high-grounds and low-grounds, propaganda and politics (the same thing) are used as tools to enlighten our minds and entertain our psyche. Add to this a killer musical score with masterful orchestration, supervision and staging, with performers that take you to new heights musically and physically (choreography is amazing) and you have the Wicked show I, and many lucky audience members, witnessed on Sunday afternoon at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC in Brisbane.
The staging, from the go-get, dragged the audience in, or dare I say, ‘draggoned’ the audience in, leaving us with a taste of what was to come. From the Land of Oz our story sprung, with some early-college-antics where our two witches became best, worst, best and ‘whatever’ friends, setting the scene for the show to follow. And what a show followed.
Might I say, at this juncture, that a production of this magnitude needs (and thrives) on a seamless team: parts become the whole and without a strong story-line (based on the novel by Gregory Maguire with book by Winnie Holzman) to anchor our creatives, you might be staging something just ordinary: Wicked is anything but ordinary!
The stage set is superb and the lighting illuminating, with costume design out-of-this-world and worthy of watching Wicked many many times, just to ‘grok’ it fully. There are moments where the audience is transported to Oz and beyond by the staging and lighting alone – I wanted to take a photo of every costume so I could run one up at home (foolish me, what am I thinking, I can’t sew!). Superlatives have not yet been written that could describe the overall effect that Wicked purveys, meaning yes, you will have to go and witness this magical production for yourselves!
“Goodness knows the wicked’s lives are lonely” and a green baby, “beautifully tragic and phosphorescent” would still be viewed today as an oddity. Oh how we like to categorise and demonise what we do not know or understand. Wicked is contemporary, with snappy repartee and social issues dealt with in a magical way, letting us all know, through beautiful “innuendo and outuendo” how nothing much changes, how “loathing” someone can turn to love and back to hate at the drop of a witch’s hat.
Hopes and dreams flood in and out through a clockwork setting, compelling and emotive, as Elphaba (Jemma Rix, voice of a superstar) discovers her powers and destiny: “nobody mourns the wicked” and this storyline is hammered home with some of the most poignant and compelling music. The quiet dancing scene, where Green meets Pink and a friendship is formed, with small acceptances expanding hearts and anchoring the storyline, is tantamount to a tear-jerker in my book, with the hair-toss scene worth the freight alone!
Everyone loves a make-over (or do they...?) and Suzie Mathers as Glinda, the good witch, shines like a beacon of talent with her ‘blondness’ allowing her some of the best one-liners ever – “Something’s wrong, I didn’t get my way”, “This must be what other people feel like” and “Teach us history instead of harping on the past” being but a few...
Enter the hunk that they will both be smitten by, “Dancing Through Life” throws Fiyero (Steve Danielsen, WOW) into the fray and watch the witches turn into bitches (well, one of them, anyway)! Madame Morrible (take a bow Maggie Kirkpatrick) and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Simon Gallagher, you devil, you) only make the plot thicker and the mix ‘awesomer’. Let’s face it, the cast is impeccable and everyone is a shining star.
“I’m not that Girl”, wistful and wishing, silences the audience ‘totes’, show-casing the whole musical spectrum with the orchestra flawless, the stage setting seamless and the lighting, oh the lighting, bringing another ‘aahhh’ moment throughout the entire theatre.
Mesmerising music and lyrics (thank you Stephen Schwartz for this musical lifeline) are all-embracing and “just for this moment, see how bright we shine” catapults the orchestra into the arms of the audience, with “No Good Deed”, dynamic and powerful, delivered straight to our souls.
There are so many one-liners and perfect prose nailing this show home, but some of my ‘faves’ are: “A twister of fate”; “no good deed goes unpunished”; “so you lied to them (with retort “only verbally”); “truth is what everyone agrees on”; “like a handprint on my heart”; “never apologise for talent” and “finding safety in evil...”
Live theatre, at its best (which Wicked certainly is) is in real-time with moments shared by the performers and the audience – you cannot get this rush by watching television or going to a movie! We are one with the performers and feel their heartbeat and become their pulse!
Standing ovation, orchestra bulging, audience goes wild and I want to see this show again and again and again as it was “POSITIVELY EMERALD”!
Wicked – The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz
music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz | book by Winnie Holzman | based on the novel by Gregory Maguire
Venue: Lyric Theatre, QPAC
Dates: From 12 February, 2015
Times: Tues 6.30pm, Wed-Sat 8.00pm, Wed 1.00pm, Sat 2.00pm, Sun 3.00pm
Tickets: from $69.90
Bookings: qpac.com.au | 136 246