11:19am, Tuesday, 23rd April 2019
EMERALD CITY HOME  -  Theatre  -  Booking  -  Times  -  Prices  -  Getting Here  -  Merchandise

Welcome to WickedUK
:: Good News ::

Latest News
Press Releases
Press Reviews
     > The Stage
     > Daily Mail
     > Daily Telegraph
     > The Guardian
     > London Paper
     > London Lite
     > Independent Online
     > London Review Online

News Archive

:: Press Reviews ::

Publishing Newspaper: The Guardian
Date: 28th September 2006
Author: Michael Billington
Photo Credit: Tristram Kenton

Formulaic without being spellbinding

Friends of Dorothy may be diverted by this musical prequel to The Wizard of Oz. But, although it has been a hit in New York, it seems all too typical of the modern Broadway musical: efficient, knowing and highly professional but more like a piece of industrial product than something that genuinely touches the heart or mind.

Winnie Holzman's crowded book is itself based on a novel by Gregory Maguire that imagines the prehistory of both the Wicked and Good Witches. The former starts out as a green-fleshed, decent-hearted outsider who has wickedness thrust upon her. Glinda, in contrast, is a vain, pushy, ambitious blonde who acquires an aura of goodness only through her solicitude for her maligned, binary opposite, here named Elphaba.

For the first half the story swings along quite merrily. There is a certain zest about the love-hate relationship between the despised Elphaba and the glamorous Glinda, who are college contemporaries. Stephen Schwartz's lyrics even display an unusual literacy, as when Fiyero, the campus stud, attacks scholasticism by urging everyone to "stop studying strife and learn to live the unexamined life." Miriam Margolyes, as a statuesque, magic-dispensing college principal, has a Dickensian exuberance that evokes the world of Boz more than Oz.

Having whetted our appetites, Wicked lapses into knowingness and moralism. As the story edges ever closer to the Baum novel and Victor Fleming movie, characters transmogrify into the Tin Man and Scarecrow and there are endless sly references to the invisible Dorothy, cyclones and shoes. Worse still, the musical decides it has to make a public statement about the importance of sisterhood. In the least beguiling number in the show, Elphaba and Glinda jointly and unconvincingly assert: "Because I knew you, I have been changed for good."

Admittedly, the show is well performed. As Elphaba, Idina Menzel possesses lungs of brass and displays the vulnerability of the congenital loner. Helen Dallimore's Glinda is very funny as the peachy blonde who begins by announcing "it's good to see me, isn't it" and gradually evolves into an Evita-style power-broker. Nigel Planer potters around effectively as the not-so-wonderful wizard and Adam Garcia endows the male romantic interest, Fiyero, with a louche charm. Joe Mantello's direction and Eugene Lee's clock-based designs do their work efficiently.

Michael Billington
Booking until February 24. Box office: 0870 145 1163

Article © The Guardian/Michael Billington, 2006

<< Return to Press Reviews

TheatreCares Charity
TheatreMAD Logo
WickedUK © 2006-2012, E.Wareham
Site Design - Version 2.0, 2007 © E.Wareham