Wicked (review). Anne Cox is enchanted by magical musical

Emily Tierney and Nikki Davis-Jones in Wicked. Photo by Matthew Crockett.
Emily Tierney and Nikki Davis-Jones in Wicked. Photo by Matthew Crockett.

It’s a multi-award-winning global phenomenon that’s been seen by millions and now Wicked has brought its musical magic to Milton Keynes Theatre for a five week run.

The house was packed last night for the opening and among the excited theatre-goers was West End star and Linslade lass Louise Dearman who is the only actress ever to have played both lead witches when she did two lengthy stints in the London production.

Wicked

Wicked

But it was a night off for her and a chance to enjoy the spell-binding performances of Emily Tierney as the bubbly blonde good witch, Glinda, and Nikki Davis-Jones in the green make-up as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West.

There’s no denying the sheer spectacle of this enormous, record-breaking musical. The costumes are surreal, extravagant and inspired. In fact I wish costume designer Susan Hilferty could run up a few lines to be sold on the merchandising counter.

There are a lot of Tim Burtonesque designs that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Johnny Depp in either Alice In Wonderland or Willy Wonka (and I’m pretty sure my daughter had a Barbie that looked like Glinda in her pale blue entrance gown).

Scene after scene brings a fresh set of colourful designs, crazy hairstyles and coordinated coiffures and hats. It’s a designer’s dream show.

Wicked

Wicked

And the set is just as original and features an almighty dragon that hangs above the audience.

The story is equally radical and reminiscent of other musicals but it, nonetheless, is just enchanting.

Once upon a time, boys and girls, there was a magical children’s book called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (it was eventually made into a film..you may have seen it).

Fast forward to the presentish day and author Gregory Maguire, a man obsessed with fairy tales, came up with a new scenario for the Oz tale.

Wicked, adapted by Winnie Holzman and put brilliantly to music by Stephen Schwartz, was the final result.

It’s a charming back story about how two young witches met at university and eventually were forced to take two very different paths.

For Glinda think Elle from Legally Blonde. She’s wealthy, spoilt and a bit of an airhead who is forced to share her luxury living quarters with a plain, green-tinged, social outcast.

The Wizard (a Willy Wonka-type eccentric with a similar taste in clothes) runs Oz through fear and intimidation, terrified that his subjects will see through the smoke and mirrors.

Throughout there are gentle nudges and references linking the tale to the original Oz story and there are some fabulous set pieces. The first act finishes in spectacular style and the wizardry continues after the interval for a thrilling night’s entertainment.

The theatre is advising not to bring the under-sevens as they may be frightened by some of the larger-than-life special effects. The dragon and some of the sound and lighting effects are a little scary.

The cast are incredibly hard-working with the two leading ladies in fine voice.

Handsome Liam Doyle acquits himself as the dashing prince who falls under Elphaba’s spell and there’s sound support from Marilyn Cutts as uni head Madame Morrible.

Wicked is a magical show-stopper and it has been well worth the long wait for its arrival in the region.

It is running at MKT until March 8. For ticket availability call the box office 0844 871 7652 or visit www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

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