Review: Wicked, The King's Theatre

Marianne Gunn's verdict: Five stars

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In appropriate green carpet style, the Scottish premiere of Wicked defied all doubters and gave Glasgow a West End worthy performance.

Running for the rest of the month, and now completely sold out (with only returns available), the production will go to Edinburgh and Aberdeen later in the tour for those not quick enough in procuring the coveted tickets.

At the heart of the show, Wicked is the story of a friendship tested by the harsh realities of an increasingly hostile and corrupt society, not our mythical childhood Oz. In the opening number Glinda, who we know as the good witch, announces the death of the "Wicked Witch" and it's the youthful story of Elphaba - the green and ostracised - that the first half explores.

The lead roles (made famous by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth) are played by Nikki Davis-Jones and Emily Tierney respectively, who both bring youthful exuberance and frighteningly impressive stage presence.

Tierney has a flair for visual and physical comedy and is a complete scene stealer in the fabulously tongue-in-cheek Popular. Davis-Jones, however, is (quite literally, as you'll see) a grower: The Wizard and I starts out tentatively, while I'm Not That Girl is a more thoughtful interpretation, exposing Elphaba's deep-rooted vulnerability.

Defying Gravity, is the turning point when the boundaries between good and evil are blurred for good and childhood beliefs about Frank L. Baum's "merry" tale are cleverly subverted - for good. This re-imagining also explains the origins of the Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow, while redefining the relationship between the three witches.

The ensemble and supporting cast are in fine fettle, with deserving nods for Marilyn Cutt's Madame Morrible and Dale Rapley's Wizard, especially his temptingly vaudeville meets Broadway rendition of Wonderful. No Good Deed and For Good give the second act the wow factor too, after the worryingly building grotesqueness of the citizens of Emerald Oz.

Flying monkeys, roaring dragons, bubbles and broomsticks are coupled with so many in-jokes, you'll be reaching for your 1939 copy of The Wizard of Oz before you can say lions and tigers and bears. Oh my.

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