MusicalNorth WestReview

Wicked – Liverpool Empire

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz

Book: Winnie Holzman

Director: Joe Mantello

Reviewer: Helen Patrick

Soaring back to Liverpool on a gravity-defying emerald green wave of popularity, the multi-million-pound mega-musical Wicked delivers on every level, every beat and every minute of its runtime.

Adapted by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman from Gregory Maguire’s book of the same name, the story looks at the friendship between Elphaba (at press night played by second understudy Amy Webb) and Glinda (Helen Woolf)– who later become the Wicked Witch of the East and the Good Witch respectively… Just how did two good friends become such mortal enemies? and does fate really decide what happens to you from the moment you are born? To give anything else away really would spoil the enjoyment for those who have yet to experience this magical musical.

What strikes you instantly about the production is that no penny has gone to waste. Eugene Lee’s stunning set design is every bit as impressive as its West End sister, the attention to detail is second to none. The exquisite costume designs by Susan Hilferty sparkle and shine and the craftsmanship up close is a thing of beauty. So often with touring productions sound seems to be a constant issue, especially in the Empire Theatre’s large two-tiered auditorium, but here that mix is blended to perfection and not one line is missed of one note from the orchestra unheard.  Equally powerful is Kenneth Posner’s striking lighting design which is an artwork in itself, sculptural and atmospheric.

Woolf as the bubbly, ditzy Glinda sparkles and shines almost as much as her costume and brings plenty of humour to the role, she has great chemistry between Webb and Aaron Sidwell who plays Fiyero with charm and bravado. Kim Ismay is a stoic Madame Morrible with plenty to like and hate in equal measure. Likewise, Steven Pinder who is reprising his role as the lovable Doctor Dillamond. But this is the night that Webb was waiting for – standing the wings and being allowed to really shine, and shine she does, this is a powerhouse performance which more than deserves her rapturous applause and standing ovation especially following her Act 1 closing rendition of Defying Gravity.

Wicked once again proves to be one of the strongest musicals of recent times and delivers on every level – if you want a show to send you soaring into the night, leave you feeling completely bewitched and totally under a spell of musical theatre perfection then you better catch this current tour before it sells out!

Runs until 31st March 2018 | Image: Matt Crockett

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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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