Review: Wicked, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
Wicked, the spell-binding West end and Broadway musical has been entertaining audiences young and old around the world for 15 years and is showing no sign of losing its magic as it enters the second week of its current UK tour run at Wales Millennium Centre.
Presented with shades of colourful Vaudevillian Steampunk, Wicked strikes a strong balance between fairy-tale and fantasy adventure. It challenges the audience to re-evaluate the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in his books based around ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ encouraging the audience to look at things in a different way.
Perceptions are shattered as an unlikely but profound friendship blossoms between two young women, who first meet as sorcery students. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West as Wicked’s storyline occasionally crosses over with the events that take place in The Wizard of Oz.
Amy Ross is the bright but phosphorescent Elphaba. Miss Ross’s portrayal allows the audience to identify with the character from the offset as she overcomes rejection with pluck, cheek and a drive to succeed.
Charli Baptie may have been understudying for Helen Woolf as Glinda on the night, I attended the production, but Miss Baptie made the good witch role her own by mixing a bubbly charm with animated charisma throughout the show.
Both Miss Ross and Miss Baptie share the limelight on several music numbers, including the comical Popular in which Elphaba learns to “toss toss” her hair, while there is a dramatic but magical climax to act one, with their performance of the song Defying Gravity.
Wicked features a strong support cast. Steven Pinder brings to life the roles Doctor Dillamond, a goat-like teacher that is condemned because he is an animal that speaks and the unscrupulous Wizard of Oz himself. Pinder’s performances are a pleasure to watch and delivered with an abundance of eccentricity.
Aaron Sidwell is the romantic lead, Fiyero and displays elements of fun throughout his performance, especially as he takes to the stage with the ensemble cast on Dancing Through Life.
Kim Ismay’s Madame Morrible has a suitably acidulous delivery worthy of any nightmarish battle-axe. Emily Shaw gets some lovely moments as Ephelba’s wheelchair bound sister Nessarose, a role that changes dramatically as the plot unfolds but handled beautifully by the actress. Iddon Jones gives a comedic performance as munchkin Boq and successfully turns on the serious side as his character develops.
My Wicked experience was a first. Colourful, fast moving, uplifting and featuring a strong plot with well rounded characters, its easy to see why it has become one of the most popular and enduring family musicals on tour.
Don’t miss this opportunity to defy gravity with Elphaba and see things in a different way!
Wicked continues its run at Wales Millennium Centre until November 24, 2018.