WICKED – Theatre Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I first discovered WICKED long before the musical made its way to Australia.

I had a beautiful friend named Antony who would excitedly share with me clips of different Elphabas around the world and their unique vocal riffs to the song, ‘Defying Gravity’. So, when WICKED was announced to finally come to Australia for the first time, I was already a passionate WICKED fan.

16 years later and in its third Australian professional production, WICKED has returned to its Australian spiritual home at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman, directed by Joe Mantello, set design by Eugene Lee, costume design by Susan Hilferty, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, and proudly produced in Australia by Marc Platt, Universal Stage Productions, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt, David Stone and John Frost AM, WICKED is an iconic fantasy coming-of-age musical that tackles bullying, peer pressure, familial love, romantic love, death, political corruption, racism, prejudice and is just as powerful and relevant today as it was all those years ago.

Stepping into the Regent Theatre and seeing the metal dragon above the stage, along with the map of Oz with Emerald City glowing in green at the centre of it, everything felt so familiar. As soon as the cast stepped out in their gorgeous costumes and the stage was lit, I felt like I was home.

The 2024 Melbourne season Australian cast consists of Kurtis Papadinis as Boq, Adam Murphy as Doctor Dillamond, Robyn Nevin as Madame Morrible, Shewit Belay as Nessarose, Simon Burke as The Wizard, Liam Head as Fiyero, and in the roles of Glinda and Elphaba played by Courtney Monsma and Sheridan Adams.

Initially, I was a bit apprehensive considering that this 2024 production is the third Australian professional production of WICKED and is also the third that I have seen. I admit, I’ve seen these characters played dozens of times before by past WICKED alumni and I wasn’t sure what this new production would have to offer. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the talents of this new cast, many of which have made these iconic roles their own.

Standouts include Adam Murphy’s Doctor Dillamond who appears kind, endearing and understanding towards the loner Elphaba. Admittedly in the past, Doctor Dillamond’s song was my least favourite of the show but I adored Murphy’s portrayal and didn’t want him to leave the stage.

Shewit Belay’s Nessarose is a more serious and darker version of the character that I’ve ever seen. Belay’s portrayal of Elphaba’s sister is the only one I’ve witnessed that makes me truly believe Elphaba and Nessarose are sisters with their similar struggles and dynamic temperaments. Despite her sensitive situation, Belay’s Nessarose has always been headstrong and I loved that. For as minimal stage time that she gets, Belay’s execution is faultless.

Simon Burke’s Wizard is hands down my favourite Wizard of any production of WICKED. Burke oozes an irresistible charm and carries a convincing accent to boot! Burke’s vocals are exquisite in the songs, ‘A Sentimental Man’ and ‘Wonderful’ but he impresses the most when he’s not saying a thing, his physical acting unmatched. The facial expressions and the emotions that Burke radiated in an important concluding scene almost broke me. Needless to say, Burke’s Wizard is well and truly wonderful.

Liam Head is dashing as Fiyero in all the right ways. You really feel his pivotal change from an absent minded aloof student to a more serious, concerned and determined soldier that will do anything for the woman he loves. Head’s vocals throughout the production soar and made my jaw drop on multiple occasions. Head’s voice smoothly reaches great heights and gives the iconic character a unique spin that feels both sincere and warm, yet still feels respectful to the original source. This is no easy task and yet Head succeeds with flying colours. The chemistry that Head has with Sheridan AdamsElphaba is pure magic but is especially notable during their duet, ‘As Long As You’re Mine’ which is positively breathtaking.

Sheridan Adams glows as the phenomenal Elphaba. Her emotional transition from a thoughtfully engaging and outspoken young talented student that’s tormented by her classmates to a steadfast woman that remains resilient despite being tyrannized by an entire kingdom is no ordinary feat, yet it’s a journey that I thoroughly enjoyed following as AdamsElphaba is so likeable. With a vocal prowess that knows no bounds, you really can’t help but want to fist pump and cheer for AdamsElphaba. While ‘Defying Gravity’ is by far the most popular number that her character sings in WICKED, it is ‘No Good Deed’ where Adams truly shines and left the opening night audience both gobsmacked and cheering in the aisles.

Finally, Courtney Monsma is fantastic as Glinda who evolves from a pretty school mean girl that gains a conscience to a woman unlucky in love that is pressured by society to perform for her survival. Although Glinda’s conscience wavers throughout the story, Monsma’s Glinda remains adorably hilarious and is superb in every aspect of Glinda’s emotions. With her natural comedic timing and insane operatic vocals, Monsma’s Glinda is well worth the admission alone. However, what thoroughly impressed me the most of Monsma’s portrayal was at the very start when her Glinda looked so heartbroken in her bubble, trying to damper her emotions while the people of Oz demanded answers from her. This excellent emotional journey continued right up until WICKED’s conclusion, Monsma’s Glinda performance throughout, consistently heartbreaking and absolutely masterful.

Together, Monsma and Adams are the perfect pair and their bitter-sweet moving duet as Glinda and Elphaba during ‘For Good’ left me in tears –  the song itself is an anthem for an unwavering love and life-changing friendship. It also reminded me of my dear theatre bestie Antony, the one who introduced me to this epic musical all those years ago. Tragically, he lost his life to cancer a few years ago and I even quoted ‘For Good’ in a eulogy that I wrote for his funeral (and I dedicate this review to him). I know in my heart that he would have loved this production.

Overall, this 2024 Melbourne production of WICKED is well worthy of every praise. It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the musical many times before or whether this is your first time. WICKED is a glorious epic that is filled with great music, songs, a talented cast, and is filled with important morals that we could all listen to and learn from. For many, this show is a wonderful introduction into musical theatre. For some, it’s a great opportunity to tick off this theatre staple from your musical bucket list. And for those like me who have seen WICKED countless times before, “Welcome home”.

WICKED is currently playing at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre until June 30th, 2024.
For more information and ticketing, please visit:

Cover photography by Jeff Busby.
Gallery photography by Grant Alexander.

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