If there’s one musical you should catch this year if in New Zealand, before the final performance on the 24th of November, it should be this one. We’ve both had the chance of attending the production, me on Saturday night and Jess Sunday afternoon, and whether you’re already a fan of the music and story or whether you’re walking into the theater a complete blank canvas there is no doubt you’ll be leaving the Civic positively glowing, emerald.
Based on the novel by Gregory Mcguire, which was based on the 1939 movie (also based on a book) Wicked, as we all know follows the life of Elphaba the ‘Wicked Witch of the West’ and how she came to be, but also her friendship with Glinda the good witch and everything leading up to, during and following what occurs in the Wizard of Oz. The musical’s themes are vast and elegantly weaved throughout the play in a way that allows the audience to enjoy the show, and understanding the weight of the messages given through each well-delivered line or beautifully-sung lyric. The ‘good vs. evil’ rhetoric is questioned and we learn that ‘no good deed goes unpunished’. There is social commentary in the ideas of people will blindly following those in power. It’s important that you shouldn’t believe everything you hear.
You also find yourself identifying with the misunderstood yet courageous Elphaba (Jemma Rix) and even sympathising Galinda (Suzie Mathers), later Glinda the Good Witch, after everything is said and done. Because Glinda loses a friend and instead of being able to mourn her, she has to pretend to hate her. And Elpahaba makes a brilliant anti-hero, in that she is mistreated by life and dealt this hand but no matter how high the adversities are stacked against her there is always a grimmerie, I mean glimmer, of hope and she defies gravity despite it all. Perhaps, even, in spite of those who would bring her down.
From the brilliant cast to the wonderful set, costumes and stunning orchestra, there is something truly magical occurring on stage. The production value is excellent and combined with the talents of everyone involved there is no denying that what you see is thrillifying and most definitely unmissable. Seriously, check out these awards. And the New Zealand company give it their all. You have to resist the urge to sing along to ‘Defying Gravity’ ‘Dancing Through Life’ and ‘Popular’ because more than knowing the people beside you paid to see the cast sing the songs, you’ll get angry at yourself for obstructing your own ability to hear the angelic tones of each actor.
Even the creator of Wicked’s music and lyrics, Stephen Schwartz, who was in the first audience to catch the first performance in Auckland praised the cast, calling Jemma Rix, Suzie Mathers and (New Zealand’s own) Jay Laga’aia “delightful” and “spectacular”, referring to the New Zealand company as “the best cast [he’d] seen in years and years”.
Put simply, Wicked is amazing. Should you see it? Definitely. Will you want to see it again? Well, let’s let Jess answer that one.