More than 1,000 tickets were sold for the Townsville Choral Society’s production of Wicked before roles had even been cast, and it’s no wonder: the songs are timeless, the setting is our favourite fantasy land at the end of the yellow brick road, and the two lead characters are a juxtaposition of good and evil.
At first glance.
The musical, showcasing events before, during and after The Wizard of Oz, gives audiences a glimpse into the tumultuous and vulnerable hearts of its characters. There is a lot more than meets the eye, with what starts as loathing between the ‘good’ and ‘wicked’ witches evolving throughout the show.
Courtney Dibben, picking up the wand of Glinda the Good Witch, said the production’s arrival in the city has already been met with tremendous support, and is testament to the talent of the locals involved.
“Wicked is something Townsville has waited a long time for – and not just the performers, but the audience as well. We’ve waited a long time to see a show like this, with so much behind-the-scenes work already invested into it,” Courtney said.
“That’s why Wicked is here; production companies have seen the shows Townsville has performed before so they’re willing to grant the rights to the bigger ones. These shows are their babies and they’re very protective of them, but when they see them in this city’s capable hands, they are reassured when they discover the calibre of our performers, backstage crews and musicians are of such high standard.”
With one of the most complex sets in the musical world including much aerial work, it is no surprise that the Townsville Choral Society’s planning for this production began long before any announcement was made: a professional set and costumes are shipping into town from CLOC Musical Theatre in Sydney to ensure the magic of the show remains consistent – but everything else, including configuring sets to suit the Civic Theatre, the addition of costumes for a larger cast and the impeccable vocal talent will be 100 per cent Townsville.
Nina Lippmann, starring as the iconic green-skinned Elphaba, said the opportunities provided for theatre lovers in Townsville shouldn’t go unnoticed.
“Townsville has TCS and NQOMT which, combined, have four major musicals a year providing opportunities for locals to get involved in costuming, props, backstage work or even performing,” said Nina.
As for Wicked itself, Nina said it had been her dream from a young age.
“I was introduced to a single song – Popular – by a friend in primary school, and I became obsessed. Then in about 2013 I went to London with my family and got to see it onstage, and it was incredible. At intermission, I told mum that I had to be in it one day,” Nina said.
“I love Wicked – so as soon as I knew it was coming to Townsville, I knew I had to audition,” said Courtney.
“I must admit, I rehearsed my Glinda songs around the house so often that my daughter started to know them and would say ‘No, no!’ because she didn’t want to hear them anymore!”
“Wicked is transformative; you will not be the same person coming out as you were going in. In fact, you will be changed for good.”
Wicked will fly in to the Townsville Civic Theatre from 24 August – 2 September. Tickets are available from the TicketShop.