Wicked is back at the Bristol Hippodrome, offering a truly magical family evening out. Ian Waller and his daughter took the road to Oz to find out more…

Last time I saw Wicked at the Bristol Hippodrome, it was a rare childfree evening out with my wife, and we absolutely loved the show. This time I took my 12 year old daughter along and wondered, would she be as enthusiastic?

I needn’t have worried – she loved it! But then, there really is so much to like about this wonderful production that gives its audience ‘the untold story of the witches of Oz’, from their traumatic early years, through wizard college and right up to the fateful arrival of some girl called Dorothy and her little dog Toto.

Wicked is a full-on, top drawer, absolute treat of a family show, full to bursting with amazing costumes, excellent songs, stunning performances and a great story to boot. Add in a giant mechanical dragon, flying monkeys and a real helping of magic, and it’s a treat you won’t want to miss.

The scene is set early on with the arrival of practically perfect Glinda, as beautiful and wondrous a good witch as you could wish for. Helen Woolf dazzles in the role, bringing both a stunning voice and perfect comedy timing, with her exchanges with her green-skinned enemy/besty, Elphaba, being among the highlights of the show. Indeed, the comedy highlight of the show sees Glinda attempting a makeover on the straightlaced Elphaba – just a treat to watch.

Talking of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch to be, WOW, what a performance! Amy Ross was amazing, with a voice that brought such power and beauty to each of her songs, as well as an energy in her performance that made me wonder how she kept it up for the full show. It’s no surprise at all that the two leads shared a very well-earned standing ovation at the end of the show, with their on-stage connection highlighting the appeal of two very talented performers.

Of course, this is so much more than a two-person performance and the leads are superbly supported by an excellent cast, all showcasing great voices and some incredible dance moves, and combining to great effect.

Throughout, the story glides along at a right old pace, including a great mix of comedy, drama and even a touch of gentle scariness – those flying monkey are not the type of beast you would care to meet at your local petting zoo. Throughout, you’ll also discover the backstory to a few of your favourite characters from the Wizard of Oz, including the tin man, the cowardly lion and the scarecrow.

Special note must also be made of the costumes and general look of the show – take a glance at the programme and there’s no surprise that there’s a total of three different wig experts alongside a host of costume and prop supervisors. Quite how the cast manage its quick changes between scenes is a mystery!

Wicked is just a wonderful piece of family theatre and I’m so glad that my daughter thought so too. It runs at the Bristol Hippodrome until 3 March. More details here