Printable CopyWICKED
Zest Theatre Group
Victor Harbor Town Hall
Until 11 Feb 2018

Review by Brian Godfrey

The byline to the Stephen Schwartz/Winnie Holzman musical version of Gregory Maguire’s novel, “Wicked” is ‘the untold story of the Witches of Oz’. This is rather ironic since, thanks to the musical, it is probably the most told ‘untold’ story ever. The show is fast becoming as popular with community theatre companies as “Grease” and “Annie”. This is a tad surprising as “Wicked” relies fairly heavily on brilliant special effects.

Zest handled most of the effects well; in particular, the famous “Defying Gravity” Act One finale that has Elphaba flying above us all – almost as spectacular as the professional version. But some sort of ‘bubble’ effect for Galinda was sadly missed, especially when it’s referred to in Act Two.

Costumes were also a bit hit and miss. The Emerald City citizens, the monkeys and the leads were costumed well. But having the Ensemble start the show in what was basically street clothing put a dampener on things to come.

In fact, the whole production was somewhat a procession of successes and failures. Using a recorded scoring of the music highlighted an impressive display of timing from the cast; but, unfortunately, possibly due to low volume of the music, most of the cast had trouble pitching and were flat on many of the high notes.

Bec Pynor (Elphaba) and Lily Van Rhoda (Galinda) were most certainly NOT guilty of any ‘bum’ notes. Both were spot on in their characterisations. The duet between Pynor and Josh Harvey (Fiyero), “As Long As You’re Mine” was sublime, and her solo number, “No Good Deed” was a show stopper.

Van Rhoda was every inch Galinda and scored with just about every bit of her comedy. However, as a musical theatre purist and Grammar Nazi, it grated on this reviewer every time she sang ‘populer’ and not ‘popular’.

Two cast who must be commended for their pronunciation and richness of speaking voice were Terry Mountstephen (Madame Morrible) and Emma Muhlack (Dr Dillamond).

First time director Peta Bowey gave it a valiant shot, but her blocking was shocking: especially in the University scenes where leads were so far upstage that they were totally covered by the Ensemble, if you were seated anywhere but the centre of the auditorium. And since Elphaba is nothing but black and green, it’s not the world’s best idea to put her in front of black drapes and greenly lit slides.

This “Wicked” had a bit of a limp wick, but had its high-flying moments.