Theatre review: Wicked

Both Emily Tierney and Nikki Davis'Jones witched with power. Picture: Contributed

Both Emily Tierney and Nikki Davis'Jones witched with power. Picture: Contributed

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THIS first touring production of the West End and Broadway smash is, boast the King’s, already the highest grossing show in their entire 110-year history.

Wicked - King’s Theatre, Glasgow

****

The excited premiere audience certainly got a show which aimed to give them their money’s worth, with all the flash and thrills of a theatrical equivalent to a 3D superhero blockbuster movie.

At times, the combined effect of its soaring choruses, loud orchestration, cavorting dancers, stunning sets and special effects (including flying monkeys and a huge dragon above the curtain) was overpowering: intense first act closer Defying Gravity had me buffeted back into my seat, almost battered into submission.

There’s not much subtlety. The story – a Wizard Of Oz prequel reimagined as a bland teen rivalry which later becomes an unconvincing national rebellion – is pretty silly, with little of the magic of L Frank Baum’s original (or the famous film). And aside from heroine Elphaba’s big numbers, powerfully sung by Nikki Davis-Jones, most of the songs are forgettable.

But the production itself can’t be faulted, with a cast giving it their all – particularly Emily Tierney, eking every inch of dumb blonde humour from her confused (and confusing) character Glinda, who changes sides every five minutes, and Dale Rapley as a charmingly cynical Wizard. His “give the people what they want” attitude epitomises this show, which was met with a rapturous standing ovation.

As a spectacle, this was truly impressive. But it did feel rather like being chased by a witch, screeching “Surrender Dorothy!”

Seen on 08.05.14

• Until 31 May

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