Wicked***** Edinburgh Playhouse: lavish spectacle that continues to defy gravity

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Twenty years on from its debut, and Wicked is still flying high. Its enduring popularity was evident with the very first roar of applause from a packed Playhouse Theatre where it is resident across the festive period. It’s sold 130,000 tickets and counting – a staggering number for one venue.

A lavish spectacle from start to finish, Wicked is packed with gems, from powerhouse showstoppers to towering performances, and huge production values.

Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire it takes us behind the story of Oz with two witches who finds ties that bind despite their very different backgrounds. Laura Pick and Sarah O’Connor lead this show magnificently - Pick as Elphaba, the outsider on account of her green skin who is more resolute than her classmates understand, and O’Connor as Galinda, the popular one who has it all but has just as many insecurities and worries under the surface.

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Thrown together as unlikely room-mates at boarding school, the story of their friendship,as it is tested to the extreme, sits at the heart of Wicked. Pick’s first major solo song, The Wizard And I, was simply phenomenal, lighting a fire under the rest of the show.

Laura Pick is outstanding as Elphaba in Wicked at the Playhouse (Pic: Matt Crockett)Laura Pick is outstanding as Elphaba in Wicked at the Playhouse (Pic: Matt Crockett)
Laura Pick is outstanding as Elphaba in Wicked at the Playhouse (Pic: Matt Crockett)

The humour and warmth between the duo was evident throughout - two fantastic leads, superbly backed by Carl Man, as Fiyero, Simeon Truby as the wizard, and Kirkcaldy-born Megan Gardiner as Nessarose, the disabled sister Elphaba was meant to look after at school.

A soaring Defying Gravity remains the stand out showstopper of the night, but there is much to enjoy across the musical score; from the opening No One Mourns the Wicked to Popular to For Good bathe in the warmth of the audience. That the love for the show remains undiminished after 20 years on stage was evident as you looked around the stalls and so so many dressed in one colour. Green.

Wicked remains a glorious theatrical experience, and will continue to defy gravity for some time to come.

Wicked is at the Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh until January 14.