Vivienne Kennedy reviews Wicked, playing at the Bristol Hippodrome until 3 March 2018
Some shows are fantastic but one viewing is enough, others can stand a second watch, and a few become life-long favourites, as familiar and comfortable as a pair of old slippers. Wicked is even more special – I’ve now been lucky enough to see it three times, but it always feels new and I’m pretty sure I could go back 20 times more and continue to spot something different at every performance. It’s an incredible show.
Based on Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, this masterclass in musical theatre has a clever plot that begins before and continues after Dorothy arrives from Kansas and sets out on the Yellow Brick Road to Oz.
It tells the story of the witches, Glinda and Elphaba (Helen Woolf and Amy Ross); unlikely friends who meet at university. From a starting point of mutual loathing their relationship grows and develops as they learn to accept opposing personalities and opinions, become rivals for the same love interest, and discover what’s really going on behind the shimmering facade of the Emerald City.
The show features an array of great songs (music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz) and you’ll be hearing them in your head long after you’ve left the theatre. They’re played beautifully by a live orchestra who I find myself feeling rather sorry for at times as low-level smoke flows off the stage and into their pit!
You’re unlikely to see anything more visually spectacular than Wicked. Eugene Lee (scenic designer) and Susan Hilferty (costume designer) have really gone to town, their work enhanced by Kenneth Posner’s lighting design. Every single costume is different and each one very detailed with layer upon layer of fabric and embroidery. There is constantly so much to see and take in that at times you don’t know what to look at next.
I could go on and on about the fantastic casting, amazing choreography and overall awesomeness of Wicked but I don’t want to give any more away other than to say that the four-and-a-bit-week run has been selling very well and if you want to bag tickets you’ll need to get in quick – you won’t regret it.
Visit www.atgtickets.com for further information and to book online.
Image: Amy Ross as Elphaba in WICKED UK & Ireland Tour. Photo Credit Matt Crockett.