WICKED the musical is back in town and is definitely one that the whole family will love. Here’s why you – and your kids – don’t want to miss this award-winning Broadway and West End production.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Well, not quite, but then again, this was a whole different take on the classic F. Frank Baum tale of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. While we were about to be drawn into an equally colourful fantasy world of witches, wizards and magic spells, this version is based on the best-selling novel named Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. It re-imagines the plotlines and characters and tells the story from a different perspective. Because there are always two sides to every story, yes?
(See also: Childhood Tales: Now & Then)
Here are 10 reasons you and your family should go watch WICKED the musical before it disappears in a puff of smoke:
1. It’s loved by people all over the world
WICKED the musical has grossed US$4 billion in global ticket sales to date, having been seen by 50 million people worldwide. It’s been to over 100 cities in 14 countries around the world, including Singapore, of course. It debuted here in 2011 with an Australian cast. This time, coming directly from a multi record-breaking tour of the UK and Ireland, the UK cast flies into the MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands. They perform on Tuesdays to Sundays till 20 November before going on to Hong Kong and Manila.
2. It’s won loads of awards
The original Broadway production premiered at the Gershwin Theatre in October 2003. Since then, WICKED the musical has won over 100 major international awards. These include three Tony Awards, a Grammy Award and six Drama Desk Awards in the US, two Oliver Awards in the UK and six Helpmann Awards in Australia. After having been enthralled throughout the Gala Premiere last Friday, we can safely say that those awards were surely deserved.
3. The sets are stupendous
We were as spellbound at the scenery as we were at the performance itself. It moved to accommodate different settings, things floated and flew around on stage and it was all quite magical. And for good reason. We were told that the production flew in just under 80 tonnes worth of scenery. Even more astounding, that it takes over 8 km of cable to automate it, not that we could spot any!
4. Oh, and there’s a dragon!
Not quite part of the sets on stage, but rather perched above it from start to finish, is a dragon! Its wingspan is said to be as wide as that of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk, the aircraft that set the still-standing world record for flight endurance in 1958. Look out when it – the dragon, not the plane – comes to life!
5. The leading cast is inspirational
The story revolves around the unlikely friendship between two sorcery students, green-skinned misfit Elphaba and little-miss-popular Glinda. The pair, of course, go on to fulfil their destinies as the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda The Good. The struggles of Elphaba are exquisitely conveyed by Jacqueline Hughes, who starred in the UK and Ireland tour to great acclaim. (In some shows, the role may be played by Jodie Steele, fresh off her run in War of the Worlds in the West End.) The role of blonde bimbo Glinda is played to perfection by Carly Anderson, who recently appeared in Sunset Boulevard at the London Coliseum.
Other notable roles include charming Fiyero played by Bradley Jaden, who starred as Enjolras in Les Miserables in the West End, and headmistress Madame Morrible played by Kim Ismay, who has starred as Tanya in Mamma Mia! in the West End and on its international tour. Popular UK television star Steven Pinder plays the dual roles of Doctor Dillamond, Elphaba’s favourite teacher, and The Wizard of Oz himself.
6. The costumes should be immortalised
Speaking of Doctor Dillamond, did we mention that he also happens to be, well, a goat? Ironically, his wig is made up of yak hair, and it’s just one of about 120 wigs used in the production. There are also fascinating animal masks that take hours to apply onto the actors’ faces, often till they go numb! All the girls will be in love with Glinda’s bubble dress, which boasts 20 different types of sequins and almost 100,000 sequins altogether! Not to be beaten, Elphaba’s Wicked Witch skirt takes the costume team three weeks to put together and she goes through four of them in the show! Psst…you can check out the costumes up close before or after the show, as they are on display in The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
7. They’ll be singing the songs over and over
The composer and lyricist responsible for the musical’s songs is multi-Grammy and Academy Award-winner Stephen Schwartz. He was also the person behind the earworms in Disney’s Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Prince of Egypt. While the dramatic ‘Defying Gravity’ is the headlining song in WICKED the musical, the song that touched me the most was Elphaba’s emotional rendition of ‘No Good Deed’. It springs from her distress and rage at how her efforts to do the right thing keep being thwarted, a feeling that many children can surely identify with. And once your kids have heard it, Glinda’s cheery ‘Popular’ may well overtake ‘Let It Go’ from Disney’s Frozen as the song of the season.
8. To hear the other side of the story
When Dorothy and her friends, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, famously triumphed over the Wicked Witch in the original story and 1939 film starring Judy Garland, we only got to see one side of the story. And all kids should learn that they shouldn’t jump to conclusions until they’ve heard both sides to any story. This will open young eyes (and older ones too!), as bits of the well-loved story are turned on their heads. I know my eyes widened when it dawned on me how the Tin Man came to lose his heart!
9. It’s a little bit scary…
The production recommends it for children aged seven and up, although children younger than that will still enjoy it. Do note, however, that there are bits that can get a tad dark and scary − and loud − so prepare the younger ones ahead of time. They will also appreciate it more if they are already familiar with the storyline, so it may be a good idea for them to watch (or a good excuse to re-watch) the classic movie before going for WICKED the musical. Stay-at-home mum Alicia Tan, 38, says, “The last time it was here, my kids both loved it. They were five and nine then. The older one is insisting we go watch it again this time round!”
10. But like all good fairy tales, there are lessons to learn
Alicia added, “The lessons to be learned far outweigh any scary bits. Most of it went over my younger boy’s head, but his sister actually told me that she felt sorry for Elphaba. That people bullied her just because she looked different from them.” We agree! Apart from the issue of bullying and judging others by their appearance, the musical also touches on things like making tough choices, staying true to yourself, questioning authority, even animal welfare and freedom of speech.
Most importantly, you don’t want to miss the musical because it’s truly, awesomely WICKED!
Here’s the official trailer:
- WICKED the musical is suitable for a general audience, but recommended for children aged 7 years and up
- Those below 12 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian
- Children aged 3 years old and above must purchase admission tickets
- Children below 3 years old enjoy free admission, provided they are seated on the lap of a parent or guardian
- The show is approximately 165 minutes long, inclusive of a 20-minute interval
- Child booster seats are available at the Theatres Cloak Room, on a first-come, first-served basis
- Photography and videography are strictly prohibited during the performance
Dates: 29 September – 20 November, 2016
Tuesdays – Fridays, 8pm
Saturdays, 2pm & 8pm
Sundays, 1pm & 6pm
Address: Grand Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands
For more information about the musical, visit www.WickedWorldwide.com
Images courtesy of Matt Crockett for WICKED UK International Tour and BASE Entertainment Asia