Written by Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan
Photography by Jeff Busby
21 September 2023
Wicked the musical offers a spellbinding back story about Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.
Sheridan Adams plays Elphaba in the new rendition of Wicked now showing at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre. She is a strong lead but eclipsed by Courtney Monsma, who was celebrated in the musical Frozen before taking on the role of Glinda the good witch.
Monsma steals the show with her comical timing, her presence on stage and her glittering costumes. She plays a dumb blonde but in no way is it a stereotype. She has some interesting expressions in her lines which at first may be “confusifying”.
Yet the new expressions in the land of Oz offer a well-rounded crafting of this fantasy world. Words such as “disgusticified”, “disrespectation”, “festivating”, “horrendible” all add to the humour. And with creation of language comes power.
As George Orwell famously stated, “there is no swifter route to the corruption of thought than through the corruption of language,” and the Orwellian themes of power and corruption both reflect Animal Farm and 1984 in the corrupt officialdom in the merry old land of Oz.
Robyn Nevin is truly an Australian icon and there could be no better casting for the role of Madam Morrible.
She transformed from the headmistress of Shiz University to become The Wizard of Oz’s press secretary giving well-elocuted false information to the Ozians adding to emphasis on the power words have and how they can be propagandised.
It was rather apt to see this topic aired on opening night with at least one row of prominent politicians who may have been silently squirming in their complimentary seats.
The animals who once taught at Shiz University attended by Elphaba and Glinda are losing their voices courtesy of the Wizard. The last animal to teach is the goat, Dr Dillamond played by Adam Murphy. He was incredible in the role and a definite crowd favourite.
It is Elphaba’s love of animals and passion for animal rights that inspired Fiyero to see her in a new light. It is this passion that sets her against the Wizard of Oz played brilliantly by Todd McKenny.
He doesn’t miss a beat in the role and played to much applause. He brings his own interpretation to it which was quite different to Bert Newton, who I saw in the role around a decade ago. Both were wonderful and both with their own take on the Wizard.
Liam Head, as Fiyero, the love interest of both Glinda and Elphaba glided across the stage confidently. A newly anointed Hemsworth look-a-like is born and will no doubt gain many followers after his stunning performance.
The smaller parts of Nessarose (Shewit Belay) and Boq (Kurtis Papadinis) showcased equally inspiring talent to create this a top-notch production.
One can’t forget the overpowering mechanical dragon’s head hanging high above the stage like an ever-imposing Smaug and the skilfully designed sets (Eugene Lee), the lighting (Kenneth Posner) and the ethereal costumes (Susan Hilferty) which all make this a “thrillifying” production.
Venue: Sydney Lyric Theatre, The Star
Season: Selling to 31 December
Performance times: Wednesday to Saturday 7.30 pm, matinees Wednesday 1 pm, Saturday 2 pm, Sunday 1 pm and 6:30 pm
Prices: From $79.00 (transaction fees apply)
Bookings: ticketmaster.com.au or 136 100