Wednesday, October 1, 2014

WICKED - Sydney Return Season



Presented by: Marc Platt, David Stone, The Araca Group, Jon B.Platt, and John Frost

Capitol Theatre Sydney

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Green is not my favourite colour, and neither has Stephen Schwartz score for “Wicked” ever been among my favourites. However I must admit that when the first chords struck up on the opening night of this return season of “Wicked” in Sydney, I was struck by how well his music served the tone of fantasy and other-worldliness in which this musical exists. As the ensemble swirled on to Eugene Lee’s amazing setting which looks even more spectacular in the ornate splendour of the Capitol Theatre, it occurred to me that, after an absence of five years from Sydney, “Wicked” has never looked or sounded better.
Heading a superb cast for this second Sydney season are Lucy Durack and Jemma Rix. Both are superb. Both give genuine star performances which fascinate for the detail and assurance they bring to the telling of the story of a complicated friendship.

Lucy Durack and Jemma Rix 
As Glinda, the good witch, Durack is so maddeningly sweet and lovable you could slap her face. Her performance is wonderfully detailed, superbly sung and terrifically entertaining as she confidently nails every laugh.  
 Matching her every inch of the way, Rix is vocally dazzling as the green witch, Elphaba, especially in the astonishing “Defying Gravity” which ends the first act. Rix is also dramatically convincing and there’s now a palpable chemistry between these two leading ladies which makes their scenes together both absorbing and affecting.


Reg Livermore as The Wizard of  Oz
Then there’s Reg Livermore in his Helpmann-Award-winning role as the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Gentle and luminous, Livermore’s performance is a lesson in sheer panache, particularly his interpretation of “Wonderful” where his display of good -old-fashioned shtick is captivating.

Good performances abound. Maggie Kirkpatrick, looks wonderful in her costumes and is very likeable as Madame Morrible.  Steve Danielsen is suitably dashing as Fiyero, but doesn’t erase the memory of Rob Mills in this role.  Edward Grey adds gravitas to the role of the rather put-upon munchkin, Boq.  Emily Cascarino is a stand-out as Elphaba’s wheel-chair bound sister, Nessarose, and Glen Hogstrom manages to bring some depth to the role of Doctor Dillamond, despite being hidden behind a goat’s mask throughout.
 The ensemble work hard and enthusiastically, swirling from scene to scene, and displaying Susan Hilferty’s marvellous costumes with flair, while executing Wayne Cilento’s clever dance arrangements with energy, style and precision.
Regardless of whether you care a fig about what happened in the Land of Oz before Dorothy arrived, “Wicked” has become a musical phenomenon and a magical experience. It’s doubtful you will ever see a better production of it than the one currently playing in Sydney.

 
 

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