It has been announced that award-winning actor Simon Burke AO will be playing the role of the Wizard during the Melbourne season of the spectacular musical WICKED.
After nearly three years playing Harold Zidler, the owner and host of the Moulin Rouge cabaret club, Simon is moving to the Emerald City. “Broadway’s Biggest Blockbuster” (NY Times) will return to its original Australian home at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre from 2 March 2024.
Simon Burke has appeared in over 130 stage productions in Australia, the UK and North America. In London, he starred as Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music, Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera, Carl-Magnus in A Little Night Music opposite Dame Judi Dench and Georges in La Cage Aux Folles opposite John Barrowman.
His Australian musical theatre highlights include Mr Banks in Mary Poppins, Marius in the original Australian cast of Les Misérables, Billy in Anything Goes and most recently Harold Zidler in Moulin Rouge! The Musical.
At age 13, he made his acting debut in the 1976 classic feature film The Devil’s Playground, winning the Australian Film Institute Best Actor award, and has since appeared in countless films and television shows, including a long running stint on Play School.
“We’re very excited to welcome Simon Burke to the land of Oz. Simon has a prestigious career on stage, television and film and is an audience favourite – he will make a wonderful Wizard of Oz, joining our astonishing cast,” said Producer John Frost for Crossroads Live.
“Tickets sales for WICKED have been defying gravity in Melbourne, and the previews we have added are almost sold out. I’m sure Melbourne fans will be thrillified that we’ve added extra performances through to June due to huge demand.
“WICKED is a proven blockbuster all around the world and has become one of the most loved musicals of all time. Get your tickets Melbourne; they’re flying out the door,” said Mr Frost.
Simon Burke is overjoyed to play the Wizard in Melbourne. “I’ve seen WICKED in London and New York and loved it, then saw the magnificent Australian cast in Sydney recently and fell in love with the show all over again,” he said.
“I’m beyond excited to join these wonderful performers in what I think is a perfect production, and can’t wait to get started,” said Mr Burke.
WICKED captivated Sydney for six months, with ecstatic capacity audiences, five star critic reviews and thrilling praise on social media. Recently celebrating 20 years since its premiere on Broadway, WICKED remains one of the most successful and popular musicals in the world.
Over 65 million people worldwide have seen this spectacular phenomenon, becoming the 4th longest running show in Broadway history (surpassing CATS). WICKED has won over 100 major awards including the Grammy Award, the Olivier Award, six Helpmann Awards, three Tony Awards® and six Drama Desk Awards.
The novel Wicked by Gregory Maguire, published in 1995, has sold 5.5 million copies, with 5 million of those sold since 2003 when the musical opened. Buoyed by the musical’s success, the novel has appeared on bestseller lists for close to two decades since its initial publication.
The stellar Australian cast is led by Courtney Monsma as Glinda, the bubbly popular girl who becomes Glinda the Good, and Sheridan Adams as Elphaba, the girl born with emerald-green skin who grows up to become the Wicked Witch of the West.
Robyn Nevin plays Madame Morrible, Simon Burke is the Wizard, Liam Head plays Fiyero, Adam Murphy is Dr Dillamond, Shewit Belay plays Nessarose, Kurtis Papadinis is Boq, and Zoe Coppinger is the Elphaba Standby.
The talented group of performers comprising the WICKED Ensemble and Swings includes Christian Ambesi, Conor Bann-Murray, Brittany Carter, Olivia Castagna, Eli Cooper, Matt Cranleigh, Joseph Donovan, Sage Douglas, Bayley John Edmends, Todd Jacobsson, Rohan Khanna, Andrew Kroenert, Elisha Zion Lee, Jordan Malone, Emily Monsma, Matilda Moran, Jackson Reedman, Amelia Sanzo, Edward Smith, Ksenia Teliatnikova, Lucas Van Rhijn, Jessica Vellucci, Mietta White and Jun Woodfield.
Long before Dorothy dropped in, two other young women meet in the land of Oz. One born with emerald-green skin is smart, fiery, misunderstood and possessing an extraordinary talent. The other is bubbly, blonde, ambitious and exceptionally popular. They become rivals, then friends…until the world decides to call one “good” and the other one “wicked.”
Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, WICKED has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and a book by Winnie Holzman. The production features musical staging by Wayne Cilento with original direction by Joe Mantello. WICKED is produced by in Australia by John Frost for Crossroads Live Australia, Marc Platt, Universal Pictures, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and David Stone.
New tickets have been released on pre-sale today for performances up until 2 June, with general public sales on Friday. An additional preview on Saturday 2 March, at which all tickets are $20, will go on sale at 8.00am on Wednesday 7 February with tickets only available from the Regent Theatre box office.
Experience the unforgettable, award-winning musical WICKED in Melbourne from March 2024. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: www.wickedthemusical.com.au for details.
Image: Simon Burke AO as the Wizard – photo by Hugh Stewart