Wicked (UK Tour), Palace Theatre Manchester | Review

Wicked

08/12/18

Palace Theatre Manchester
Reviewed by Mia Goddard
★★★★
Wicked tells the untold backstory of Elphaba, a green-skinned social outcast unloved by her fellow peers and her Munchkinland governor father. At university, Elphaba strikes up an unlikely friendship with popular fellow sorcery student Glinda, but the pair’s opposing personalities and rivalry over the same love-interest Fiyero  ultimately sees them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.
From the striking set and breathtaking special effects to the bold and bright flamboyant costumes, every inch of this touring production is a complete and utter visual delight. Add in Stephen Schwartz’s memorable score with tracks like ‘For Good’, ‘Popular’ and, of course, ‘Defying Gravity’, and it’s no wonder this visual spectacle casts a spell over all those who see it.
For the performance I saw, three understudies/standbys took to the stage to show their incredible talent, Nikki Bentley as Elphaba, Charli Baptie as Glinda and Jack Harrison-Cooper as Boq.
Nikki Bentley is simply memorising as Elphaba, demonstrating an innocent side to the character which feels fresh and new, whilst also holding her own on the difficult musical numbers, which sees her soar above the smoky stage much to the delight of the audience.
Charli Baptie is equally excellent as the kind-hearted ditsy blonde Glinda, her perfect comic timing bringing light in this dark tale. Dressed in dazzling costumes, she commands the stage with her exquisitely over-the-top portrayal and soft operatic tones, once again, demonstrating real skill and precision in the musical numbers.
Caught up in a love triangle between the witches, Fiyero played by Aaron Sidwell and his descision to ‘look at things another way’ is a great example of beauty being in the eye of the beholder and Aaron held his own with his flawless rendition of ‘As Long as You’re Mine’. 
Steven Pinder as the Wizard, Kim Ismay as Madame Morrible, Emily Shaw as Nessarosa and Jack-Harrison-Cooper as Boq all provide excellent performances also showing off their impeccable vocal. The ensemble are very strong, and provide all the other more minor characters as well as general Ozians, showing incredible dance ability, especially in the role of a flying monkey.
In fact, pretty much everything works here, from Winne Holzman’s adaptation to Dave Rose’s orchestra. 
Wicked for me was the musical that started it all ever since watching it for the first time back in 2013. No wonder the musical has broken so many box office record around the world.