Wicked at Birmingham Hippodrome Review

Wicked at Birmingham Hippodrome Review

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Posted 2024-03-08 by Alison in Birmingham follow

Wed 06 Mar 2024 - Sun 07 Apr 2024



The spectacular musical returns to Birmingham throughout the Easter school holidays. It may be a fantasy origins story to The Wizard Of Oz but it's also got heartfelt messages true for the everyday world about friendship and standing up for what's right.

Packed with special effects, dazzling costumes and that famous song, Wicked is the essence of a big-budget West End show. It feels special from the moment you walk into Birmingham Hippodrome , where it stays until Sunday, April 7 as part of a five-week season in the city.

The stage curtain has been transformed into a huge map featuring The Emerald City and Munchkinland. Actors dressed realistically as monkeys climb onto the stage inviting everyone into the magical and very green world of Oz.



It starts with Ozian townsfolk celebrating the death of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, at Dorothy's hands. It's up to Glinda the Good to fill them in and ends up with her reminiscing back to when she first met Elphaba at college.

Because of this, the first part of the show feels more like High School Musical with teenage anguish over fitting in, what to wear to the ball, who the handsome new student Fiyero will date and makeovers. All the essential ingredients of any teenage movie might grate a little to anyone aged over 25 in the audience.

But there is an undercurrent of something deeper as the only animal member of the faculty, an adorable goat called Doctor Dillamond. speaks of his kind disappearing or losing their ability to speak. There's the hint at a fascist regime trying to silence a minority, using them as a scapegoat for shortages of food and discontent. Headmistress Madame Morrible, shown below, is a bit too keen to enlist the powers of Elphaba too.



Green-faced Elphaba knows what it's like to be out of the ordinary and is doing all she can to fight back against the system. Although her friend Glinda is shamefully self-centred and oblivious to all the underhand dark magic taking place as the pair take a trip to see the 'wonderful Wizard of Oz'.

That's when things step up a gear, cleverly turning all that we knew about the famous story of Dorothy and Toto completely on its head. The reimagining and redemption of the Wicked Witch as a victim of bad publicity and propaganda are afoot ahead of the interval, just as the sublime and now iconic track Defying Gravity stuns everyone.

Laura Pick as Elphaba was impressive anyway before this seminal moment that showcased her talent on another level. This is after all the role that made a worldwide name of Frozen singer Idina Menzel.



Her opposite - Sarah O'Connor as Glinda - shows off her voice in songs like Popular but also has the most comedy lines and fabulous outfits. It's the costumes that are a key part of making this show dazzle. It feels like no expense has been spared.

Their other "uni friends" fit into characters from the original Wizard Of Oz from the Tin Man to Wicked Witch of the East but the main one that stands out is romantic hero Fiyero. Carl Man is well cast as the cliche heart-throb with something more to him than meets the eye.

Simeon Truby is a safe pair of hands playing not just Doctor Dillamond in full goat costume but also later the Wizard. He has some quieter but catchier numbers of 'A Sentimental Man' and 'Wonderful. '

Overall, this may not be the most well-rounded or perfect musical but it is spectacular and hugely likeable. With flying monkeys, potions, tricks and lovable characters, Wicked is a phenomenon that dazzles.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Tickets for Wicked are available from the Birmingham Hippodrome website here and cost from £28.

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279958 - 2024-03-07 12:40:22

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