Adelaide Festival Theatre. 12 April to 26 May.
The visual feast that is Wicked finally flew into town in April. Had you passed by the Festival Centre any time in the past couple of weeks, you would have noticed it was positively green with anticipation (which is probably more than can now be said for the Centre’s carbon footprint!).
This show is something to get excited about however, if only because it actually came to Adelaide. So frequently overlooked by big productions that choose to stay in the eastern states rather than risk a light on run of empty seats in little old Adelaide, the multi-Tony award winning Wicked tests our theatrical dedication. If current tickets sales are anything to go by, it looks like we’re more than up to the task.
Opening to a full house following a well-attended set of previews, the production has all the elements one would expect from its sizable reputation and budget. The wonderfully intricate and animated set made use of every inch of the Festival Theatre’s stage. The giant pinnacle of the set, a fire-breathing dragon loomed over the audience, kicking off the show with its articulated head, flapping wings and glowing eyes.
More than just a pretty face, the set’s winding, tree-like staircases, mezzanine balconies and a second storey bridge were well used throughout. The choreography was tight and Susan Hilferty's costuming was perfectly gorgeous and offbeat.
In equal parts well meaning and self-centred, irritating and hilarious, Lucy Durack owned the character of Galinda (later and more commonly known as Glinda, the Good Witch). Easily garnering the most laughs for the night, she admirably maintained an excruciatingly cutesy vocal tonality for the show's entirety and should be first in line for the stage production of Legally Blonde.
Her character was a perfect contrast to the deep-thinking and intelligent Elphaba (Jemma Rix), soon to become the Wicked Witch of the West. Rix captured her role with similar mastery, embodying Elphaba’s stubborn pride and morality. Both Rix and Durack wowed when they hit the high notes of their musical numbers; Durack enchanted with her wonderfully strong operatic voice.
Putting in a fun performance as The Wizard, Bert Newton’s appearance late in the first half received a warm welcome from the audience. Newton was entertaining and his acting was solid, but the vocals only just passed the mark.
The play has its bum notes; the storyline ebbs and wanes with a set of themes so well worn you could see straight through. It does however, weave in the characters of its much-loved older sibling with enjoyable ease and is a genuinely lovely tale.
All in all a highly entertaining night out. You’ll forgive the occasionally boring bit – just take in another view of the glorious set!
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