WICKED - the musical

Marina Bay Sands Grand Theater, Singapore

A Review by Hawk Liu

I had an amazingly 'wicked' day at the media session in the Grand Theater. Armed with a goodies bag of 'Wicked' media material and a wicked 'Wicked' green water bottle (!) I went into the theatre into the company of some TV crew and many photographers and reporters of sorts, some from other countries including Indonesia and even Australia. A pleasant surprise was seeing my friend, Emilie-Ann Oehlers with her friend Joanne, attending the event too.

After a video showing of the phenomenon of the musical, we were given many interesting insights of the show by the managers, and some of the actors, including Madame Morrible, showing off her magnificent costume. The highlight of the afternoon was the performance of 3 songs from the show, fully staged with full sets already in place...and twice each song! The songs were Loathing, Popular and One Short Day. We got to video and photograph from anywhere in the auditorium and I felt like a little kid running off to a different position whenever they would run the same songs the second time.

The general Q and A was followed by another one where we were grouped smaller with the lead actors rotating between the groups so that we could ask more questions. It was great because we got to see them in costume real close! They were all so friendly and genuine. They told us they were staying opposite to Lau Pak Sat and loved the Satays. So guess where I went and what I had for supper after the show that night...

After confirmation of 2 complimentary tickets available for the evening, I got a friend to come see the show with me - what a treat!

The show - 

The sets on the stage was magnificent! A huge dragon with wings greeted us above the proscenium - alright, the proscenium couldn't be seen anyway because it was totally covered by stairways, twigs and other set items. There were many clock motives, and coloured lights on the set abound for the different effects during the show. There were quite a number of shadow play, the most impressive being the scene where the Wicked Witch had to fight Dorothy and was eventually ... I can't reveal what happened. There were quite a bit of wire-work where actors were hanging in the air - flying monkeys, Galinda flying on a bubble, and of course the spectacular Elphaba soaring into the air in 'Defying Gravity'. This stunt was more stunning that I ever imagined it to be! The lighting effect on the stunt alone made it impressive and it did look as if the witch was nearer than she really was. I think the unsung hero of the show were the lights. They do so much to make sense of the scenes being played out.

Alright - will the sound men please make sure that the lead vocals are louder than the orchestra please - I don't want to miss anything they sang! So often, in music theatre and opera, the orchestra would be louder than the singers they are supposed to accompany! 

The story was truly engaging, especially since I hadn't read the story before. The characters were each special and different and I believed each of them. The story was tight throughout, except for the opening of Act 2, which was the fault of the writers - the song kind of went on and on about nothing much. The script was really good and there were so many nuances that made the show work - bravo to both the script and the director. The music in terms of the overall sound was impressive and the orchestra was immaculate. However, the music in terms of the writing left me wanting to hear more recognisable melodies, as well as melodies that carry themselves longer in each song. The good songs were really good but tunes were alacking otherwise. For example, the music for the chorus was not very tuneful. There were impressive harmonies with almost no tunes - that's how I would put it. Of course, that would not negate the great performance of the chorus which gave high energy throughout in their performance.

The actors were all good. Top class singing from Glinda, Elphaba, Fiyero, Nessarose and Boq. Faultless! The charactor roles were all well acted and Madame Morrible was certainly 'wicked' to the core! - in a good way. Glinda (Suzie Mathers) and Elphaba (Jemma Rix) were truly amazing in their respective, long and involved roles, and I cannot fault them anywhere! What exquisite singing too! Both roles were very well written and they certainly didn't disappoint. I didn't think Glinda's role, being a superficial character, could be taken seriously. I was wrong. Her character developed well in the show and her motives were strong. Oh yeah, Fiyero was totally believeable as the 'air-headed' male lover. At the Q and A sessions, he was certainly no 'air-head'. He was good looking and had a good brain in there. I would like to single out the performance of Elisa Colla as Nessarose. Although not a huge role in Nessarose, she managed to project a very strong personality for her character. I couldn't believe how her character turned out at the end - such fire!

For the uninitiated, here is a gist of the story. Elphaba, born literally green, and Glinda, born glamourous, became the unlikeliest of best friends since they met in school. The story reveals the events that led to Elphaba being the bad witch in the film 'The Wizard of Oz', starring Judy Garland. It also revealed the personal stories of the Tin Man and the Scarecrow. You must also meet Madame Morrible, the villainess. I cannot say more as there are many 'secrets' being revealed during the show about the characters we thought we knew so well in 'The Wizard of Oz'. Great acting, dancing and singing - great performance! Wicked was a most satisfying evening for me. See it !

Also published at http://the-mad-scene.blogspot.sg/2011/12/wicked-media-invite-and-review.html

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