WICKED Courtney Monsma and Sheridan Adams photo by Jeff BusbySince its publication in 1900, L. Frank Baum’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, has maintained an endearing fascination from audiences of all ages.

The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) 1939 musical film, The Wizard of Oz, built on the novel’s success, making a star of its leading lady, Judy Garland, and is frequently ranked as one of the greatest films of all time.

Nearly 100 years later, Gregory Maguire published his novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. The New York Times bestseller and soon to be a major motion picture, is the first of four novels in The Wicked Years series.

Featuring music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell and Pippin) and a book by Winnie Holzman, the original production premiered on Broadway 20 years ago. Told from the perspective of two witches (and unlikely friends) from The Land of Oz, the musical featured Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda and the legendary Joel Grey as the Wizard.

WICKED The Australian Cast photo by Jeff BusbyWicked quickly became one of the most popular shows on Broadway, gaining a legion of fans due to its unflinching representation of two strong female protagonists and its social commentary on the nature of good and evil.

Repeating its worldwide success, Wicked premiered at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre in 2008 to much acclaim and granting star status to its two leading ladies, Lucy Durack as Glinda and Amanda Harrison as Elphaba.

This success was repeated in 2014 as Wicked embarked on its 10th Anniversary tour, with Durack reprising her role as Glinda, who was joined by Jemma Rix as Elphaba.

Following its recent season at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre, the Broadway blockbuster has returned to its ‘spiritual home’ at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre for its third iteration, looking and sounding absolutely terrific.

Wicked-Shewit-Belay-Robyn-Nevin-Sheridan-Adams-photo-by-Jeff-BusbySince its premiere in Australia in 2008, I have been fortunate to see numerous seasons of Wicked – and this season spectacularly pops in every way. Based on the original production directed by Joe Mantello, director Lisa Leguillou has delivered a production that looks as fresh and exciting as it was on the first viewing.

A breath-taking, multi-dimensional world that immerses the audience in the narrative, Eugene Lee’s Steampunk-inspired design with the visually striking Time Dragon clock as its centrepiece, has have never looked better.

Susan Hilferty’s visually stunning costumes, together with Kenneth Posner’s lighting and Elaine J. McCarthy’s projection design, create the utopian world of The Land of Oz, providing the landscape for the cast to manoeuvre Wayne Cilento’s exquisite musical staging.

Tony Meola’s excellent sound design ensured that the lyrics and dialogue were crystal clear, allowing musical director David Young and his brilliant orchestra to do justice to the musical score.

WICKED Sheridan Adams and Courtney Monsma photo by Jeff BusbyWith the benefit of a season already under their belts, Courtney Monsma (Glinda) and Sheridan Adams (Elphaba) are outstanding in their respective roles. Monsma as the perky blonde is infectious and bursting with life. She practically steals the show with her rendition of Popular.

With a powerful voice and commanding stage presence, Adams is an absolute joy to watch. Her end of Act One anthemic showstopper, Defying Gravity, is absolutely thrilling.

Australian theatre matriarch, Robyn Nevin, is in fine form as the scheming and manipulative headmistress Madame Morrible, and fresh from his role as Harold Zidler in Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Simon Burke brings an alluring vaudevillian charm as The Wizard of Oz.

As the attractive romantic lead, Liam Head is simply charming as Fiyero, while Shewit Belay (Nessarose), Adam Murphy (Dr Dillamond) and Kurtis Papadinis (Boq) offer compelling characterisations to round out an outstanding supporting cast.

A compelling spectacle of storytelling, song and dance, Wicked is a jewel of a production. As it has done in the past, Wicked will continue to please and delight a new generation of theatregoers.

Regent Theatre, 191 Collins Street, Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 7 March 2024
Season currently playing to 30 June 2024.

Following the Melbourne season, Wicked will play the Lyric Theatre – QPAC, Brisbane from September 2024. For more information, visit: www.wickedthemusical.com.au for details.

Images: Courtney Monsma and Sheridan Adams – photo by Jeff Busby | The Australian Cast of Wicked – photo by Jeff Busby | Shewit Belay, Robyn Nevin, Sheridan Adams and the Cast of Wicked – photo by Jeff Busby | Sheridan Adams and Courtney Monsma – photo by Jeff Busby

Review: Rohan Shearn