Powerhouse duo shine in 20th Anniversary production

There is a reason Wicked continues to perform to a full house night after night across the world. I now know why.

Wicked last visited Melbourne in 2014 and I have always regretted not putting enough pressure on my parents to buy me tickets when I was a kid. Nonetheless, all was made up during the spectacular 2 hours and 45 minutes of theatre.

The cast is led by Courtney Monsma as Glinda and Melbourne-born Sheridan Adams as Elphaba, who both radiate the best of Australian talent.

The musical begins with Glinda addressing the citizens of Oz and reflecting on the death of the Wicked Witch of the West, and launches into the story of how the pair formed an unlikely friendship.

Courtney’s comedic timing doesn’t miss a beat as she brings to life the privileged character of Glinda while still harnessing her hidden ditsy, and at times awkward, interior.

She brings her own identity to the “Good Witch” in a flawless performance. I was in awe of her mannerisms and wit as she had the audience in stitches time and again.

I acknowledge my inability to compare Courtney’s performance to previous castings, but I would find it hard to believe anyone could trump her opening night.

PHOTO: Jeff Busby

But I also have plenty of praise for her co-star Sheridan Adams, who is vocally sublime as she belts out the production’s most iconic number at the conclusion of the first act.

Sheridan’s performance of ‘Defying Gravity’ sent me to another dimension. I had goosebumps from head to toe. She is a musical theatre star who has been cast perfectly in this demanding role.

I can still hear the roar of applause as the spotlight faded on her final note.

And while the production is strong across the board, it is these two leading ladies who cement it as being a must see while it’s in Melbourne.

Robyn Nevin plays the role of Madame Morrible and despite speaking her musical lines, Robyn plays the evil headmistress with great presence. Her wicked laugh is on point as she commands the stage wearing beautiful costumes.

Simon Burke plays the Wizard in Melbourne following Todd McKenney’s stint in Sydney. Simon was extremely impressive in his most recent role with Moulin Rouge! the Musical, which is why I was less wowed by him as the Wizard.

Cabaret club owner Zidler had such a big personality in Moulin Rouge! so it’s quite the change to see him strip it back in this role.

In saying that, he still does a brilliant job in bringing the slippery corrupt persona needed as the Wizard.

Liam Head brings charm to Fiyero and steps up and shines in ‘Dancing Through Life’. Shewit Belay plays Nessarose and manages to command the stage during her featured moments that gives the show that little bit more warmth and humanity. 

The ensemble is dressed in costumes that extend the world of Oz expressed by the set, and are accentuated by seamless choreography which keeps focus on the lead cast.

Beyond casting, I really do salute all aspects of this production. There is a high standard across the board – from sound and lighting, to sets and costumes.

There were several moments in the show where I was dazzled by the symmetry between cast movements and set changes  – either opening up the stage simultaneously, or drawing attention towards a focal point. 

The flow throughout the production was artistic and unwavering. 

Wicked explores discrimination, prejudice and entitlement in a way that still allows for light and shade, drilling home the simple lessons of good vs evil, self-acceptance, perspective and the importance of always standing up for what you believe in.  

John Frost for Crossroads Live’s production is impressive, and promises a very entertaining night at the theatre. 

Wicked gives you something new from beginning to end, without any noticeable lull in the storyline. 

It’s been seen by more than 65 million people worldwide and I applaud Melbourne to keep that number ticking up. You will not be disappointed. 

Wicked is calling the Regent Theatre home until June 30. Tickets can be purchased HERE.

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Jack Ward
Jack Wardhttp://jacktward.com
Jack is the current editor of ENCORE Melbourne, a producer and assistant chief of staff at Nine News Melbourne, with a love for theatre and the world of performing arts. He moved to Melbourne from regional Victoria at the start of 2022 for study and work opportunities, AND easy access to Australia's theatre capital! Jack spent several years performing on-stage with his community theatre group and school productions.

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