Get us in your inbox

Sheridan and Courtney in a golden archway
Photograph: Carmen Zammit

Behind the curtain: Wicked’s Sheridan Adams and Courtney Monsma

We spoke to the two stars about finding their power through performance

Ashleigh Hastings
Written by
Ashleigh Hastings

There’s no disputing that Melbourne local Sheridan Adams and Queenslander Courtney Monsma are living the dream. Together they’ve scored the lead roles in Wicked, one of the world’s most successful and beloved musicals, currently playing for the third time at Melbourne’s palatial Regent Theatre

Just a few short years ago Adams worked front of house at Her Majesty’s Theatre, where Monsma was playing Anna in Frozen. Now, the pair share the stage every night belting out some of the most iconic musical numbers of all time.

Courtney Monsma and Sheridan Adams smiling, sitting close together on a couch in the Regent
Photograph: Carmen Zammit

In case you’ve been sequestered in a soundproof cave since 2003, the story of Wicked fills in the gaps left by The Wizard of Oz, showing us how Glinda the Good and Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West came to hold their titles. Monsma (who plays Glinda) describes it well: “Look at The Wizard of Oz, then grab the camera and turn it a little bit to the left”.

Both Adams and Monsma profess their love for Taylor Swift and spending time at the Royal Botanic Gardens. They both also use the phrase “pipe dream” to describe how they once thought about the prospect of nabbing their current roles. Yet despite their personal similarities, the characters Adams and Monsma play couldn’t be more different. 

A magazine cover showing Sheridan and Courtney
Photograph: Carmen Zammit

Elphaba (played by Adams) begins as a hopeful university student, who finds herself an outcast thanks to her emerald green skin and magical powers she doesn’t quite yet have a handle on. 

“We see her figuring out how she should remain true to herself, stepping into her power and fighting for what’s right no matter the consequence,” says Adams. “Even though Elphaba is quite guarded and uses her wit, at the core of it she just wants to be loved.”

Adams says she relates to Elphaba because she shares her experience of being bullied, and her strong sense of justice. In fact, she originally wanted to be a journalist to “be at the forefront of trying to make a change in the world”. 

When asked what she can learn from Elphaba, Adams says she’d like to have a bit more of “her power, her strength and her ability to get through difficult things”. Adams had doubts about whether she was “strong enough” to play Elphaba, but she’s since learned that she certainly is.

Being a powerful woman can look a million different ways. 

According to Monsma, Glinda is a “completely complex character”. And as the ‘good witch’, she’s “very bubbly, but she’s still authentic to what she wants”. 

“She goes on a massive journey of self-discovery to understand the deeper meanings of life throughout the show. Everything she does is with 100 per cent good intent, it just might not come across that way at times.” 

Sheridan and Courtney hold hands
Photograph: Carmen Zammit

Monsma says Glinda’s journey throughout the show has taught her to question what defines good and evil. “It’s not a black-and-white answer,” she says.

Who defines what is for good?

While Wicked might read at first glance as a lighthearted, fairytale-esque story, everyone who’s seen Elphaba and Glinda embark on their journey to Oz knows that the musical is packed with political allegory. So how do the show’s leads feel about the deeper meaning behind Wicked?

Monsma is quick to point out that the show has clear parallels to today’s climate. “In the show, animals have no right to speak, and that’s often how people feel in real life.”

Adams says she’s “really proud to be in a show that explores complex themes”. 

“You have the light and you have the dark. What is good and what is evil? There’s a lot about truth, justice and propaganda.”

“It’s very political,” agrees Monsma. “Just because you’re in power doesn’t mean you’re right, or that you’re good.” 

“I find it so fascinating that 20 years later these social and political issues are still just as relevant,” says Adams. “We’re human beings and we seem to fail to learn from our history.”

Both women agree that Melburnians just get the show, which they put down to our city’s appreciation for the arts. Monsma describes Melbourne audiences as intelligent. “They really ride the waves with us,” she says.

There’s such a beautiful arts culture in Melbourne. When you perform a show in Melbourne, it really does feel like you’re on one of the biggest stages in the world. It’s just got that atmosphere and that community.

As a Melbourne local from Hoppers Crossing, Adams is loving performing at one of the grandest theatres in her hometown. “I’m having a lot of fun in Melbourne, at the Regent Theatre in particular,” she says.

“Melbourne audiences understand this story and I think that’s because we love culture here. We love art, we love musicals, we understand them. Of course, it’s a night out. But I think Melbourne audiences can really find the depth in the story.”

At the end of act one the wall of sound that hits me when I’m up in the air is just unbelievable.
Sheridan and Courtney stand on the Regent Theatre balcony
Photograph: Carmen Zammit

As for what those audiences will hopefully take away from Wicked, Monsma says you can take the message of the musical and apply it to any issue concerning “people and power”. Adams also wants audiences to come away knowing that there’s no one right way to fight for change. 

“It doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re more of a Glinda or more of an Elphaba, it doesn’t make you any less powerful,” she says.

Photographer: Carmen Zammit

Lead designer: Conor Mitchell

Design: Jack Puglielli

Location: Regent Theatre

Feeling inspired to head to the theatre? Check out the best of Melbourne theatre and musicals this month.

    You may also like
    You may also like