Smash hit audience favourite Wicked flew into Salford this week for the final leg of a hugely successful UK and Ireland tour, offering audiences their last chance to catch this spellbinding production outside of London.
The West End and Broadway musical spectacular is based on the international best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire and tells the untold story of the Witches of Oz, before Dorothy so rudely landed on top of one of them. Maguire turns the much loved story and characters created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, upside down and inside out as we follow the unconventional and very unexpected friendship between Elphaba and Glinda who meet on their first day at school and ultimately become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda The Good.
Wicked turns the notion of good versus evil on its head and makes us question even the scruples of Dorothy, I mean what kind of person would steal a dead woman’s shoes?!
With music and lyrics from Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman this outstanding, critically acclaimed production has been seen by over 1 million people since it premiered at the Palace Theatre back in September 2013. The music and lyrics are an English language lovers dream, with powerful songs that will make you both laugh and cry and the most clever of scripts that constantly surprises you.
Ashleigh Gray is perfectly cast as Elphaba, her voice is outstanding and she hits the high notes with ease, the chemistry between her and Emily Tierney who plays Glinda is fabulous and their friendship truly believable, funny, fascinating and at times very moving. Our two leads are supported superbly by a fine ensemble cast, with each and every person giving it their all.
I’ve been lucky enough to see Wicked several times both in the UK and internationally and it never fails to thrill, it is a truly outstanding piece of theatre, the enormity of this touring production is awesome, Eugene Lee’s set design gives the total wow factor, nothing here has been scaled down, it’s big, bold and seriously impressive and looks right at home on the Lowry’s wonderful Lyric stage. Susan Hilferty’s costume design is exceptional, quirky, colourful and completely brilliant, everything you would wish for in the magical Land of Oz. The standing ovation received will no doubt carry on for the full seven weeks of the run; the joy this production brings would be difficult to rival. I urge you fellow Ozians take a trip to the Lowry and catch it while you still can!