A brilliant performance by former Chichester High School for Girls student Emily Tierney is at the heart of Wicked, which rolls into Southampton and instantly lives up to all the hype which has preceded it.
The show has broken Mayflower box office records - which is all credit to a public which knows what’s good and what isn’t.
Wicked is great. In fact, it’s wicked, which is hugely to Tierney’s credit as Glinda, working beautifully partnership with Ashleigh Gray as Elphaba to deliver the glorious tale of one of fiction’s less likely friendships.
It seems that The Wizard of Oz told only half the story. In their youth, as Glinda and Elphaba, the Good Witch of the North and the Wicked Witch of the East were the best of mates, and that’s the story we get here, cleverly set in, around, before and after the tale made famous by the Judy Garland film.
Green-skinned Gray is the outcast who brings out the best in ditzy, dumb-blonde Glinda when the two are thrust together at college. But events pull them apart.
Gray is terrific at showing both the vulnerability and the reaction as Elphaba grows in strength and spirit; Tierney is similarly superb, bringing lovely comic timing to Glinda, a girl who learns what really counts.
Together, they’re a formidable team in a show which deeply impresses, contrasting performers, contrasting singers who give a great sense of the shared journey behind one of our most iconic films.
If you’d ever wondered what the Wicked fuss was all about, they answer it perfectly with the highlight of an already excellent year at Southampton. Yes, The Lion King is a cracking show; but Wicked takes it all to the next level.
And to think that in Chichester we can claim Emily as one of our own...