Glinda's Wicked fun

WICKED, the Grammy Award-winning musical that has charmed millions the world over, will make its much-anticipated Singapore debut tonight.

In the lead-up to the big event, much has been said about the elaborate stage and extravagant costumes going into the 21/2-hour Australian production here, and its producers have promised that standards here will match those of the show's Broadway and West End counterparts.

Based on a 1995 novel of the same name by American author Gregory Maguire, Wicked follows "Good Witch" Glinda and "Wicked Witch of the West" Elphaba in a tale of complex friendship.

The two characters - played respectively by Scotland-born Suzie Mathers, 27, and Australian Jemma Rix, 26 - were made famous in the 1900 classic novel by L. Frank Baum, and the subsequent 1939 movie it was based on, The Wizard Of Oz.

The accolades the musical has racked up include several prestigious Helpmann Awards, which recognise the best in Australian theatre.

One of its best-known numbers, Defying Gravity, was even given a new lease of life when it was performed on an episode of Glee.

Ahead of opening night, my paper caught up with the bubbly Mathers - who has a Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theatre from the esteemed Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts - to discuss her role.

How did you get involved with Wicked?

I'd seen it on Broadway in 2007, and I was so excited when I decided to audition later that same year.

It was a huge process and I was cast as an understudy, with parts in the ensemble.

Then, I left the show for a while to play the lead of Sophie in Mamma Mia!, but returned to play Glinda after a year.

What do you think shows like Glee, which have musical theatre at their core, do for the industry?

It's fantastic because it has brought musical theatre to the forefront of the public's mind.

It's created a new interest that's definitely helped us.

The public is only now getting to know theatre stars like Kristin Chenoweth (who played Glinda in the musical's Broadway premiere and has a recurring role on Glee).

In turn, she becomes a genuine performer who is going to draw audiences into the theatre.

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