Wicked, Mayflower Southampton, review: '˜This is sure to be a family-pleaser'
A re-imagining of the eventsÂ inBaum's immortal The Wizard of Oz, the Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman adaptation of Gregory Maguire's novel is a simultaneously powerful drama and clunky allegory.
The first act, in particular, thumps its '˜equal rights, regardless of colour or species'Â drum loudly, equating Oz under the Wonderful Wizard as a magical Nazi Germany.
Act two takes us on a more personal journey for ElphabaÂ '“ a note-sure, belt-voiced Amy Ross '“Â and Glinda, Helen Woolf, and we come to see how sweet Elphie eventually became the Margaret Hamilton we all know and love.
Amy navigates the choppy waters of Elphaba well; sweet, well-meaning and misunderstood, you perfectly understand her change into the bitter Wicked Witch of the West. Helen Woolf, equally sure-voiced with some incredible upper-soprano range, tries too hard with the comedy in the first half, but rises to the emotional challenge of the second '“ and who couldn't love her cheeky nod to Eva Peron on the balcony?
Aaron Sidwell makes a charming Fiyero and '“ again '“ one stands in awe of his vocal-range. Steven Pinder does fine work as the likeable Doctor Dillamond and the very un-likeable Wizard '“ but Kim Ismay made it for me; more Madame Machiavelli than Madame Morrible, and with a voice like syrup to boot.
Blazing ensemble work '“ both vocal and physical '“ and this is sure to be a family-pleaser,Â if perhaps a little too dark for the very youngest.