Wicked a big, bold, magical experience

Kelly Hocking (Glinda) soars above the chorus in the opening number of the Musical Theatre...
Kelly Hocking (Glinda) soars above the chorus in the opening number of the Musical Theatre Dunedin production of Wicked. Photo: Linda Robertson
Wicked - The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz
Regent Theatre
Thursday, May 16

Reviewed by Elizabeth Bouman 

Blockbuster musical Wicked is now playing at Dunedin's Regent Theatre.

Director Douglas Kamo, choreographer Emma Hollaway, musical director Stuart Walker and consulting director Stephen Robertson have created a big, bold, magical experience with an incredibly spectacular production of the Stephen Schwartz award-winning musical, which details previously untold youthful years of the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch, who feature in the Wizard of Oz (1939).

Dark, brooding, often misunderstood Elphaba (Anna Langford) was born with bright green skin, and Glinda (Kelly Hocking) the beautiful, bubbly, popular blonde with 24 pairs of shoes, are rival sorcery students at Shiz University.

A wildly inventive plot follows their ambitions, crammed with smear campaigns, squabbles and fallouts, plus fights over their affections for Fiyero (Luke Butson).

There are far too many twists and turns in the story to relate here, but a book of spells was at hand, sorcery and magical powers flourished, and an encounter with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Greg MacLeod) saw the girls take very different pathways.

Dramatic banter and repartee were constant. There were no "weak links'' other than at times vocal dialogue was lost during the girls' power-packed solos.

Madame Morrible (Alethea Chittenden), the formidable headmistress whose specialty is changing the weather, Nessarose (Kristina Saul), Elphaba's crippled sister, Boq (Jacob Irby) and Dr Dillamond (Chris Hinch) all excelled with powerful vocal deliveries matching the characterisation of every role. Special mention must go to the agility and variety of the various chorus routines.

Detailed decorative costuming and makeup plus magnificent sets (Harold Moot) with spectacular lighting (fluorescent green Emerald City) and numerous special effects highlighted thrilling scenes.

A 17-piece orchestra delivered the fast-paced colourful score and nine back-up singers in the pit strengthened chorus vocals.

Some of the many standout songs were I'm Not That Girl, The Wizard and I, Defying Gravity and the final heart-rending duet, For Good.

Wicked has won over 50 major awards, and Musical Theatre Dunedin's extremely professional local effort is right up there with the accolades - great entertainment.

The season runs until May 25.

 

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