REVIEW: Wicked at Birmingham Hippodrome

Wicked is a Broadway and West End smash-hit musical, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. It's based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel, an alternative telling of the novel and film; The Wizard of Oz. The show's story is told from the perspective of the witches and includes several references to The Wizard of Oz throughout.

Since its 2003 debut, Wicked has broken box office records around the world and won over 100 major awards including 2 Olivier's, 10 Whatsonstage Awards (including Best West End Show and Best Musical), 3 Tony's and a Grammy. 

Debuting in the West End in 2006, following a number of years on Broadway, the West End production is the 11th longest running show in the capital having notched up over 6,500 performances.

The show tells the story of two unlikely friends; Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Galinda (the Good Witch). The duo struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, reactions to the Wizard's corrupt government, and, ultimately, Elphaba's public fall from grace.

It's been six long years since I've seen the show - in fact the last time I took a trip to Oz was in that very same auditorium back in 2018. I had no doubt that the show would be good; when you're working with that book, that score and that staging it's incredibly difficult to fall short. However I possibly underestimated just how captivating the current production could be.

An incredibly important aspect of any production of Wicked is the set and lighting and, for any touring production, compromises have to be made to accommodate the various venues the cast are performing in. However it's almost impossible to make those compromises when you're considering a musical on this scale. It's those elements which set the musical apart from its contemporaries - and this tour delivered 100%.

There were absolutely elements that were missing from the show. There were no monkeys scaling the set in the prologue, nor did Elphaba emerge from underneath the stage during 'No Good Deed'. Maybe this was a result of modernising the show to give it a point of difference - maybe it was that element of compromise. What it wasn't was detrimental.

Another massive factor is the music and Wicked has one of the most beautifully overwhelming scores of any show around. Coupled with the set, lighting and costume, the four create so much more than just 'a performance'. However, as with any show on this scale, the cast are more than just a passing thought - they're the glue that holds the thing together and the company on this tour is simply exceptional.

Laura Pick joins a long line of women who have painted themselves green to play Elphaba. This is a HUGE part for any performer and one which takes its toll on your voice during every run.

Pick has a long affiliation with the character, making her debut in the show's West End cast in 2021. You can easily appreciate she will be a safe pair of hands, but in reality, she's so much more. Laura made the delivery of the part seem effortless and delivered a masterclass in musical theatre with an exceptional vocal and perfect comedy timing.

It's clear she's in a position where she's comfortable and assured in the role and can start to enjoy it - out and out she is in my top 3 actresses in this role.

On the other side of the coin, Sarah O'Connor is an immaculate piece of casting with a brilliantly funny, vocally stunning and exquisitely over-the-top Galinda (FYI - the GA is silent).

When you first see the bubble float down, you cross your fingers that the person in it is eccentric and won't hold back; qualities that O'Connor brought to the role in droves. Those who sing the part as it's scripted and show little emotion can so often fall flat where as those who play the funny parts for laughs get top marks in my book - O'Connor has a CV so many would be envious of and it's clear to see she's a perfectly packaged powerhouse who gave us the Glinda charm we needed!

Special mention should also go to Carl Man who took on the role of Fiyero - a part which can sometimes become quite throwaway. Man brings the looks and the talent and seems a perfect fit for the role. Again, this is someone with a long history with Wicked who can take the role and run with it, much to the joy of the audience.

This show is as funny as it is tender and Wicked as a concept is one of the most brilliant musicals of the last decade and a bit. There's a reason why it's won the number of awards it has and there's rightfully a protective fandom that encircles it. This tour has everything the fans want from the production and has a certain charm about it. By far, one of the best show on tour in the UK at the moment.

Wicked runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until 7th April 2024. For more information or to get the last few tickets, head online to

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