REVIEW Wicked, Lyric Theatre, Lowry, Salford Quays, Thursday 04 June 2015
Monday 8th June 2015 @ 13:35 by Max Wieland
Entertainment

Everything about the touring production of Wicked is just that, from start to finish, pretty much all of this celebrated musical is as terrific as expected.

Ashleigh Gray as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West.

Ashleigh Gray as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West.

From a giant dragon suspended over the stage to the enormous personas of the cast, the capacity crowd at the equally impressive Lyric theatre at Salford’s Lowry were enthralled throughout.

Based on the international best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire, Wicked cleverly reimagines and entwines with the original characters and stories created by L Frank Baum in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Most of the action in ‘Wicked Oz’ comes before Dorothy Gale’s unusual arrival from Kansas, although those famous red shoes do feature to some degree eventually.

But despite containing elements of the story that most people know so well, Wicked is, in fact, a very clever but distinctly different story, yet relatable enough for the fans of the original Oz.

Centring on both Glinda The Good and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and how they become friends through their sorcery studies at University, the musical hit is particularly gripping for a two-hour 45-minute production.

Glinda – or Ga-linda as she repeatedly points out to much laughter– is popular whilst Elphaba isn’t, meaning their unexpected friendship takes you on a hilarious journey.

Emily Tierney and Ashleigh Gray as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

Emily Tierney and Ashleigh Gray as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

Emily Tierney (Glinda) and Ashleigh Gray (Elphaba) both deliver standout performances, as does Samuel Edwards (Fiyero) and Marilyn Cutts (Madame Morrible) who probably most depicts the ultimate villain of the night. But particular mentions must indeed go the whole of the cast, all of whom were faultless.

As expected with such a critically acclaimed production, the songs are show stopping and were rightly applauded with aplomb at every opportunity.

Particular highlights come via the dreamlike Defying Gravity, the annoyingly catchy Popular and the happily haunting No one Mourns the Wicked, whilst Glinda and Elphaba’s love battle over Fiyero makes up for a spectacular ending.

It comes full circle with a standing ovation on all three tiers of the theatre after a night of as much special effect wizardry as you would hope from such a production, with changes in visually striking costumes and incredibly impressive sets all adding to the magic.

After becoming the tenth longest-running show in London’s West End, it was easy to see why Wicked has become such an exciting draw for millions of people every year, but to have it touring to the Lowry is not only an exciting proposition from fans from across Greater Manchester, it is a privilege worth checking out.

Wicked is showing at the Lowry until July 25.