Review: Wicked Returns To Singapore To Standing Ovation [6/10/16]
Wicked has enchanted Singaporeans once when it premiered in 2011, now experience the magic of Oz onstage once again as it sweeps back into Mastercard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands.
This time around, the award-winning production features the West End cast, bringing in talents such as Jacqueline Hughes and Carly Anderson as Wicked leads Elphaba and Glinda respectively. Both of them are highly acclaimed stars who’ve starred in various West End productions over the years.
If you’ve never caught Wicked before, or can’t understand the hype, here’s a brief overview of what goes down. Adapted from Gregory Maguire’s novel of the same name by Winnie Holzman, Wicked started off in New York 12 years ago, pegging big name Broadway stars such as Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth as the leads and wowing audiences. Wicked is a prequel to L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz, but don’t expect any Judy Garland numbers here. The story follows the life and times of the wicked witch of the west. Born with green skin, Elphaba (named after L. Frank Baum) is shunned from birth, but blessed with powerful magic. Fast forward to years later, and she’s attending the magical Shiz University, running into the glamorous witch Glinda, whose good girl exterior belies a Regina George type within. It’s not all Mean Girls though, and the two quickly become friends after some drama. Of course as Baum inspired drama goes, none is complete with a love triangle, vicious villains and countless references to The Wizard of Oz.
All of the above is a really brief summary of Wicked of course, but the highlight of the show, apart from the amazing leads, is the brilliant songs and lyrics from Stephen Schwartz, including timeless hits such as ‘Popular’, ‘One Short Day’ and of course, the show-stopping ‘Defying Gravity’, which Hughes performed to great applause from the audience, belting out the final syllable as she was lifted up and towered over the stage and all of Oz.
One particular highlight has to be Glinda and Elphaba’s duet ‘What Is This Feeling?’, the song sung during the ballroom scene. The lyrics are brilliant, subverting the expected feeling of ‘loving’ with the phonetically similar ‘loathing’, and marks a turning point for the girls’ relationship. Although the song ends with them still in ‘loathing’ with each other, Glinda sees Elphaba for who she really is during the ball – not a green skinned monster, but a sincere and genuinely good person, and regrets an earlier prank she played on Elphaba. It’s a very moving moment and the brilliant chemistry between Hughes and Anderson really makes you feel and believe in their growing sisterhood.
Despite being the third time I’m catching Wicked, it still manages to remain fresh and lively onstage, even bringing a tear to my eye when Glinda and Elphaba part ways at the end during ‘For Good’, which remains my favourite song off the list. All in all, whether you’re a longtime fan or new to the Wicked fever, now’s your chance to catch the hit musical once again in Singapore. Do yourself a favour and watch it, and you’ll find yourself dancing right on through life.
Wicked plays at Mastercard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands until 20 November. Tickets available from SISTIC