Which is witch? The good, the bad and the . . . green. Sarah O’Connor as Glinda and Laura Pick  as Elphaba. Pictures: Matt Crockett.


Birmingham Hippodrome


Wicked is . . . well, wicked.

There are certain shows – be they theatre or television – where people tell you, nay almost order you, that you simply must watch them. That it is not up for debate because you will 100% enjoy them.

All notions of personal preference are immediately removed and you will become a fan – it is a done deal that you will enjoy this show.  

Being an awkward old sod that tends to push me firmly in the opposite direction.

Wicked is one such production – so many people have told me over the years that it is amazing that I felt no urge whatsoever to actually find out if they were right.  

But, with a heartfelt request from my two sons to go and watch it, I abandoned my stubborn (and lonely) outpost and came in from the cold to experience Wicked as it came to Birmingham Hippodrome, for a five-week season.

With over 100 global awards, an 18-year run at the London Apollo and a global audience of more than 65 million people . . . then everyone who loves it can’t be wrong - can they?

Well, no - actually, they’re not wrong at all – it’s an absolute belter of a show.

For the uninitiated, think of this as akin to the origins story (reference for Marvel fans!) for |The Wizard of Oz, based on Gregory MacGuire’s 1995 novel. It’s the tale of what was and what might have been for the two witches – Glinda the good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

The fact it has continuously played for over 20 years since its Broadway debut is testament to its enduring quality but also to its enduring relevance to the current day. Indeed, knowing nods to Wicked are everywhere in modern day culture – I defy anyone to say they’re not heard defying gravity.

It is show which is full of heart and humour and important messages about acceptance and the dangers of propaganda and judging books by their covers. It’s also really, really good fun.

The story subverts our prejudices as we try to use the shorthand of the original Wizard of Oz to automatically decide what the truth is in Wicked. Namely, as Glinda says: “Are we born wicked or is wicked thrust upon us?”.

The ironic thing is that everyone is telling you the same thing, that it is great, yet it is a show all about being different and how difference should be celebrated and seen as a good thing.


Donna Berlin strutting her stuff as Madame Morrible

If I had to describe what I thought a Broadway show was (whilst perversely acknowledging that I’ve never seen anything on Broadway) then Wicked is exactly what I would think of.

It is big and brash and bold, with two barnstorming divas, catchy tunes, fabulous costumes and scenery and something important to say. It embodies everything you want in a night at the theatre.

The cast are excellent – Carl Man doing a sterling job as Fiyero, who starts off life as a bit of a dolt but then shows his true heroic colours. Donna Berlin, chews up the scenery as Madame Morrible and Simeon Truby shows great skill as two entirely different types of paternal figures in the Wizard and Doctor Dillamond.

The star billing however has to go to Laura Pick and Sarah O’Connor as Elphaba and Glinda respectively. Both were nothing short of sensational – they had great comic timing, a wonderful chemistry and their singing was so good that it led my kids to remark that it was like being inside a Disney cartoon.   

Virtually every musical number is as good as the next but particular highlights for me were Defying gravity, I’m not that girl and For good.


Simeon Truby, who also plays the Wizard, moonlighting here as Doctor Dillamond.

The world created by the talented cast is further augmented by the wonderful sets, lighting and sound courtesy of Eugene Lee, Kenneth Posner and Tony Meola. The costumes by Susan Hilferty, topped with hair and wig design by Tom Watson really did transport you to another world.

That world, soundtracked by the wonderful music and lyrics of Stepehen Schwartz to a story written by Winnie Holzman – is a delight from start to finish. The live orchestra, led by Matthew J Loughran, adds class to an already classy production.

In short, I can see why people keep seeing the show again and again – it’s not about the surprises of the story so much as how the story makes you feel. It’s just something really positive and good at a time when not everything in the world fits that description.

The production runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Sunday April 7th. Over 60,000 tickets have been sold, so if you’re tempted (you should be) then I’d book fast to avoid disappointment as dates are starting to sell out.

Easter holiday performances, currently have the best availability and there’s even an extra that’s been added on March 29th. Tickets are from a bargain £28 here and there are accessible performances  with a Captioned performance, a BSL Interpreted performance and an Audio Described performance.

If you can find a ticket then I suggest you grab it with both hands – if you’ve seen Wicked before then you know what a treat you’re in for. If you haven’t then you’re about to experience something special.

Theo Clarke


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