by | Mar 9, 2024

Review by Bronwyn Cook

“Who runs the world? GIRLS”

There is nothing more so evident in 2024 than the current surge of girl power we are seeing globally. From Beyonce to Barbie to Taylor Swift to the incredible Australian female sporting achievements, the world is bathed and pink…and green.

And even more suitably, the third opening night of Wicked in Melbourne (following its 2008 and 2014 seasons) was held on International Women’s Day 2024 eve. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate women than by seeing the tale of two unlikely gal-friends that evolves into one of the most classic stories of our generation.

And for future generations, with the first part of the Wicked movie due to open later this year.

It really is the year of Glinda and Elphaba.

Just in case you’ve not heard it before, the story of Wicked is easily described as a prequel to the Wizard of Oz, which in the second act of the show is like watching Wizard of Oz but just off to the left of what we know.

It answers the question – how did “Glinda the Good” and “Wicked Witch of the West” meet, what was their story before Dorothy?

In telling the story that answers this question it also poses many more questions. Are people born wicked? What defines ‘good’ versus ‘evil’? What happens when you judge a book by its cover? Can you trust what ‘people in power’ tell you? What impact does treating people a certain way have later in life? All questions that remain extremely current in today’s climate.

Stepping into the shoes, or more correctly bubble and broom, of Glinda and Elphaba in the third iteration of Wicked in Australia, is Courtney Monsma and Sheridan Adams.

You might think they are very big shoes to fill with these roles having previously been played by some of Australia’s superstar leading ladies of stage Lucy Durack, Amanda Harrison, Jemma Rix – let alone the original and iconic broadway pairing of Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth.

However, Monsma and Adams not only fill the shoes admirably and deftly, but they fill them with their own unique takes on Glinda and Elphaba.

Monsma especially shines in her journey from ditzy and blonde Galinda, to the more aware and conscientious Glinda. Her “Popular” is just delightful, injecting her own small idiosyncrasies and flair to the famed number.

Adams is tonality different to the Elphaba’s before her, but she fully inhabited every inch of her verdigris exterior and the Regent Theatre.

It was when their voices combined that the real magic happened. With “What Is This Feeling?”  and “For Good” Monsma and Adams singing together was pure alchemy, joyous, heartfelt and enchanting.

Joining the cast in Melbourne as the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and having barely unpacked his Regent Theatre dressing room from Moulin Rouge, is Simon Burke AO. (Who must now have it written in his contract that his character wears a top hat, tails and carries a green bottle.) Burke brought a little bit of Zidler flair to the Wizard, artfully portraying the man behind the mask that has all good intentions, just executed perhaps not so well.

As the foil to the Wizard, legendary actress and director Robyn Nevin as Madame Morrible defies aging! At the awesome age of 82, Nevin brings all the right elements to Morrible, who is quite frankly horrible from beginning to end (clarification – not Nevin herself who is indomitable, but her character).

Rounding out the principal cast is Liam Head as Fiyero, Adam Murphy as Dr Dillamond, Shewit Belay as Nessarose and Kurtis Papadinis as Boq, who were all respectively great in their roles.

Aside from the small tweaks that different actors bring to their roles, not much has changed across staging, sets and costumes in the land of Oz over the past 21 years. And that’s okay! For a show that has won over 100 major awards and been seen by 65 million people (!!) the adage of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” certainly applies.

What does continue to change is the ‘real’ world in which Wicked inhabits. As the discussions and movements around racial equality, human rights and the ethical treatment of animals evolve – so does how these issues are reflected in the themes of Wicked, and gives you pause for thought.

All seriousness aside, at the end of the day, Wicked remains a wonderfully wholehearted whimsical winning witty watch.



WICKED is now playing at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne’s East End Theatre District


For more information: click here


Photo credit: Jess Busby

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