Wicked – Review – Bradford Alhambra Theatre

Wicked Review Bradford Alhambra Theatre

By Steve Crabtree, April 2024

The West End and Broadway phenomenon that is Wicked has tornado’d itself into Bradford. And the good news is that the Alhambra has become the Emerald City for a huge five-week run.

If you’ve never seen the show before, firstly – what have you been doing? And secondly, now is the time.

Wicked tells the untold story of the witches of Oz: Elphaba, the green-skinned outcast destined to become the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, the popular and privileged Good Witch of the North. It gives us the tale of their unlikely friendship, how their personalities clash and come together, and offers a fresh perspective on the events leading up to Dorothy’s arrival.

Basically, if you’ve seen The Wizard of Oz, you’ll have your preconceptions about the Wicked Witch, but this show sets the record straight.

Wicked Review Bradford Alhambra Theatre

“Fantastically flamboyant”

I’ve been lucky enough to see Wicked four times now, including once in the West End. And after entering the Alhambra via the green carpet, I can’t help but think that tonight’s performance is the best and most enjoyable one I’ve seen. A musical of such calibre is always going to be a strong production, and this was full of strength everywhere you looked.

Wakefield’s Laura Pick absolutely delivers in the leading role of Elphaba.  She was sensational, owning the stage and offering a world-class vocal range too. From the beauty of ‘I’m Not That Girl’ to the euphoria of ‘Defying Gravity’ – she excelled. You have to excel with that song, and I’m so pleased to say I was in earshot of her performing it. I think some Yorkshire charm kicked in a bit too – the way she delivered a couple of dead-pan moments was very relatable to us folk up ‘ere.

Across from her, as Glinda the Good is Sarah O’Connor. The way she took a sugar-sweet exterior into calamity and naivety on the inside was lovely. She can hit a note too, and although you might want to dislike her to begin with, O’Connor ensures you eventually love her for all the right reasons.

The friendship and the emotion between Elphaba and Glinda was sweet and natural, and that allowed us watching to feel emotionally attached and involved with them. That was enhanced with their faultless duet ‘For Good’.

Carl Man was a perfect casting choice as the point of the love-triangle, Fiyero. Here were three astonishing leads, backed up by a perfect ensemble. Some fantastically flamboyant choreography ran nicely alongside the menace and the mayhem.

Wicked Review Bradford Alhambra Theatre

“From dreamy to dazzling to destructive”

Wicked isn’t just about the storyline and the cast though. I can’t think of anything I can’t eulogise about. The scenery and effects are West End standard, with everything from rain, wings, and bubbles forming a delightful backdrop. Lighting went from dreamy to dazzing to destructive, captivating us on-lookers even more. And, when you add the straight-out-of-a-storybook costumes to that, you easily forget this is a touring production. It’s as good as you’ll see.

Its nudges towards the Wizard Of Oz story are subtly noticeable, and they make you smile.  It also contains possibly the greatest ever ending to a first act the stage has seen. I noticed a few more subtle funnies throughout this show than I had before too.  I’m not sure if it’s my familiarity with the story that allowed me to spot these things I hadn’t noticed before, but I seemed to laugh a bit more at this one.

You get that though, it’s a masterpiece that thrills you, grips you, pulls your heartstrings and makes you laugh.  It’s been around for over 20 years now, and with its deep story, clever script and talented performers… it’ll be around for another 20 years yet.

I don’t think I can speak highly enough of this showing of Wicked at the Alhambra.  The instantaneous standing ovation from all showed just how incredible the performance was, and my love for Blood Brothers as my favourite long-running musical is being severely tested!

Wicked runs at Bradford Alhambra until 19th May.


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