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  • Theatre, Musicals
  • Regent Theatre, Melbourne
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Wicked Sydney production 2023
    Photograph: Supplied/Jeff Busby
  2. Wicked Sydney production 2023
    Photograph: Supplied/Jeff Busby
  3. Elphaba  (Sheridan Adams) argues with The Wizard (Simon Bourke)
    Photograph: Supplied/Jeff Busby
  4. Wicked Sydney production 2023
    Photograph: Supplied/Jeff Busby
  5. Wicked Sydney production 2023
    Photograph: Supplied/Jeff Busby

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Does this glittering allegorical tale still defy gravity? Two effervescent leads keep the magic alive

My first encounter with the viridescent power of Wicked was through the sliding door of a suburban dance studio. Face pressed against the glass, I strained to hear the optimistic refrains of ‘One Short Day’, eyes bulging and dopamine levels skyrocketing. So widespread is the pop-cultural impact of this fan favourite musical, that half of Melbourne likely has a similar memory of discovering Wicked. 

This faithful revival of the bewitching blockbuster sees the show fly into Melbourne for the third time in 15 years with an abundance of pine-hued pizazz, after celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Broadway premiere at the Sydney Lyric Theatre. It’s also worth noting that the Gregory Maguire novel that forms the basis of the plot was published back in 1995. After all this time, it’s only fair to check in and ask: does Wicked remain evergreen?

The costumes, choreography and sets are as slick as they come, which is exactly what’s expected from a show that’s had this many chances to get it ‘right’. This version of Wicked is not reinventing the wheel – instead it’s the cast who keep the cogs turning in a fresh way.  

There’s no mistaking that these performers are magical. While Melbourne always loves to get a show before Sydney, our advantage here is that the cast has had time to fully take command of their characters – and they’re flourishing. 

Courtney Monsma’s G(a)linda is slap-your-knees, let-out-a-squeal funny. She re-shapes the virtue-signalling mean girl role and makes Glinda that much easier to redeem with her masterful timing, quirkiness and propensity for revealing the good witch’s vulnerable side. From soaring operatic highs from within her perfect bubble to a delightfully unexpected grunt or two, Monsma is a delight.

The role of Elphaba is right up there with music theatre’s biggest shoes to fill, and the boots fit Melbourne local Sheridan Adams just right. Her beautiful voice carried her through two demanding acts and her emotional chemistry with Monsma helped us invest in the reconciliation arc between two complex female friends who are often at odds. As for the Big Moment, Adams’ commanding ‘Defying Gravity’ delivered goosebumps galore.

Simon Bourke has joined as The Wizard for Wickeds Melbourne season, spending only a few days away from the Regent Theatre after finishing up Moulin Rouge! The Musical on the same stage. The legendary performer brings a cheeky swagger to the role, alongside fellow icon Robyn Nevin who is convincingly conniving as Madame Morrible. Liam Head’s Fiyero has far from an empty head, regardless of his initial proselytising on the unexamined life. After making her stage debut in the Melbourne season of Hamilton, Shewit Belay gives a layered performance as Nessarose, the soon-to-be Wicked Witch of the East.  

At first glance Wicked might read as a fairytale-adjacent flight of fancy, but this sparkling musical is rich with sociological themes and political allusions. A woman shunned because of her uncompromising activism and the colour of her skin; a literal scapegoat silenced because of his species (a heart-wrenching Adam Murphy); a government figurehead relying on smoke and mirrors. The parallels are easy to draw, and this is the most pressing reason Wicked remains a narrative Australian audiences should be apt to learn from. However, from a musical that laments that “Oz is becoming less and less colourful”, it would have been wonderful to see further diversity reflected in the casting.

More than a simple family musical, this principled tale asking why wickedness happens (or is perceived to happen) will likely always remain relevant. While there’s perhaps some room to consider how this stellar story could be reimagined in the future, diehard fans and newcomers alike will be blown all the way to Oz by these stunning performances. 

Wicked is playing at the Regent Theatre until July 28. Tickets for the general public are on sale now via the website

Love the ol'razzle dazzle? Check out what other new and upcoming musicals are coming to Melbourne. 

Ashleigh Hastings
Written by
Ashleigh Hastings


Regent Theatre
191 Collins St
Nearby stations: Flinders Street
Opening hours:

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