Monday, March 16, 2015

Broadway Review: Wicked

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great acting, sets, story
Cons: Music isn’t completely memorable
The Bottom Line:
An alternate Oz
Fill with great sets and costumes
Great theater time

So That’s What All the Fuss is About

I know, I know, I’m very late to the party.  I just finally saw Wicked for the first time, and that’s despite all the praise I’ve heard for it for years.  I must admit, I wasn’t completely sure what I thought of it as the story was unfolding, but in the end I was thrilled I saw it.

In case you’ve missed all the buzz, this Broadway Musical tells the story of Elphaba, aka the Wicked Witch of the West in Oz, and what led up to the story we know when Dorothy enters the picture.  We meet her as she is going to college, but not really as a student but as a companion to her younger sister, who has been in a wheelchair all her life.  See, Elphaba was born with green skin, and has been shunned by others, even her father, all her life.  Unfortunately, she winds up rooming with Galinda, a spoiled brat who is used to having everything going her way, and neither are especially happy with the arrangements.

But then things begin to change as Elphaba begins to come into her own.  Will they develop a friendship?  What will Elphaba’s stands on things she sees are wrong mean for her future?

I really didn’t know much about the story going into it beyond the basics I just shared.  Let me tell you, this is a very different take on the characters we already know from Oz.  Still, there are many fun moments as we get to see things falling into place for Dorothy’s arrival even if they aren’t the real version.  (And I’m sorry, but I’m going with the original Wizard of Oz book as the real version of events).

I thought I might have an issue since I am reluctant to root for a wicked person.  However, they do a great job of setting things up so that we can root for heroes and against villains.  As I was watching, I began to be afraid how I would feel about the ending until we actually got there.  Then I loved it.  So just rest assured that it is a good ending.

The songs?  There are a few standouts like “Popular” and “Defying Gravity,” not to mention the extremely popular duet “For Good.”  Most of the songs work best in the context of the play, so you might now find yourself humming the songs the next day, but it is still enjoyable.

The cast, costumes, and sets I saw here in Los Angeles recently were quite good.  The part of Galinda is hard since it really does fit Kristen Chenoweth (who originated it) to a T, and it’s hard to come out of that shadow.  Still, I got into the story and bought everyone in the cast.  I always enjoy seeing how sets are created and changed in the big productions, and this one didn’t disappoint.  The costumes are perfect as well, and really help transport you to Oz.

So if you get a chance to see Wicked, I highly recommend it.  It’s a fun night of musical theater.

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