Wicked at The Bristol Hippodrome

Posted on: 2024-01-26

Our rating:

Defying Expectations in Chilly Bristol!

Although I have seen several musicals, Wicked seemed a bit out of my comfort zone and not my normal type of entertainment. Looking around the audience I could see several other people in my position of being very actively encouraged to attend by their partners. In terms of musicals, I tend toward the emotive (The King and I) or ridiculous (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) so, when I found myself at the Bristol Hippodrome last night to see Wicked, I was admittedly sceptical. However, I walked away from the performance with a surprising smile on my face!


Wicked is set in the enchanting world of Oz, the story is a prequel to the classic Wizard of Oz, exploring the untold tale of the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch; I didn't know this at the time and it was only as the story unfolded that it became clear just how clever the writing is. The story takes the assumptions we make of each character and turns them on their head in a witty and thought-provoking fashion while assiduously laying the foundation of The Wizard of Oz.


One of the standout aspects of the production was the impeccable casting. From the moment they stepped onto the stage, Elphaba and Glinda were captivating and vocally powerful, their contrasting personalities made for great viewing and their chemistry was excellent - like they had grown up together! Laura Pick, in particular, as Elphaba, brought an electrifying energy to the character. Her powerful vocals and emotive performance left me spellbound.

The music of Wicked was genuinely extremely impressive and catchy as well. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the songs seamlessly integrated into the storyline, enhancing the narrative rather than detracting from it. 'Defying Gravity', in particular, was a showstopper, with Pick's rendition leaving the entire theatre in awe.


What truly sets Wicked apart, however, is its thought-provoking themes and social commentary. Beneath the enchanting facade of magic and fantasy, the musical delves into topics such as discrimination, the abuse of power, and the consequences of societal prejudice. These themes gave the storyline depth and substance, making it more than just a light-hearted spectacle. It prompted me to reflect on the real-world parallels that can be drawn from Oz's tumultuous society.


The set design and costumes were another highlight of the production. The intricate details and vivid colours transported the audience to the mystical land of Oz, creating a visually stunning backdrop for the story. The attention to detail was astounding, and it added to the overall immersion into the world of Wicked. I was always searching for small touches that showed care and love of the art such as a green lining inside an open briefcase.

Perhaps what surprised me the most was how Wicked managed to balance humour and heart. The witty dialogue and comedic moments provided levity to the more profound themes of the story, ensuring that the audience was engaged from start to finish. It's rare for me to find a musical that can evoke genuine laughter while also tugging at the heartstrings.


In conclusion, Wicked managed to convert my sceptical outset into one of genuine admiration at the spectacle and joy at the content. Its captivating storyline, exceptional performances, memorable music, and thought-provoking themes exceeded my expectations. I walked into the Bristol Hippodrome with reluctance but left with a newfound appreciation for this type of musical theatre. "Wicked" is a testament to the fact that even the staunchest non-believers can find magic in the world of musicals when presented with a production as exceptional as this one. If you're like me and typically shy away from these types of musicals, I implore you to give "Wicked" a chance; it might just defy your expectations too.


Wicked runs at The Bristol Hippodrome until Sunday 25 February 2024, buy tickets HERE.

Article by:

Gareth Owen

Gareth is director of Raw Space Coworking on Gloucester Road and loves to write about the city’s art and culture.