Review of Wicked @ Oven’s Auditorium
Posted on 30 May 2010 by Mitch Metz
Just when I was starting to think Shrek could replace Yoda as my favorite green character, along came … the Wicked Witch of the West? No! How in the world could anyone love that mean ol’ thing? Welcome to Wicked!
The National Tour of Wicked has blessed Charlotte’s with it’s “good news”: the story of Elphaba (EL-fa-ba, named for the initials of Oz author L. Frank Baum) and Glinda (formerly GA-linda… “with a Ga”), the Yin and Yang of sorcery in Oz.
Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire (an interesting read, but a little too perverse for my taste), Wicked shows us what it’s like to deal with society when we’re a little different, and don’t quite fit in… a.k.a. green. Winnie Holzman wrote a wonderful script, Stephen Schwartz added music and lyrics, and the result is what I feel is the greatest musical of our generation.
Imagine if you will, you show up at college, and you’re the green kid. The first act takes us through Elphaba’s relationship with Galinda, from their “loathing” each other, to Elphie becoming “popular”. All great fun, as the bubble headed (and bubble riding) Good Witch (Natalie Daradich) brings high energy and an even higher voice to the stage. A very demanding role for an actress, as she’s truly a ditz at times, yet we adore her! Like the citizens of Oz, I had no problem falling in love with the vision of “good” Natalie brought to the stage. An outstanding performance!
By the end of the first act, we get to see (and feel) how Elphaba (Vicki Noon, but I saw standby Anne Brummel) has turned from awkward green girl to Wicked Witch. She’s caring, thoughtful, yet headstrong, and oh yeah, magical! Let’s say like a woman you know is having a bad day, and may be just a little grumpy … it could happen. Anyway, now add in the ability to fly and cast spells … hmmmmm … I believe I’d be afraid too! Anne gave me goose bumps when she finally told us she’s bucking the system, and is doing things in her own way, by defying gravity.
The second act is when we catch up to “The Wizard Of Oz” movie we all know and love, and takes place simultaneously. A sort of “behind the scenes” look, but with laughs, music, and drama … “just take that one road … the whole way” says the directionally challenged Glinda.
Anne truly shined on the night I attended. Her voice, comedic timing, and dramatic acting were flawless, as was the rest of the cast. Once I got over the WOW factor, I noticed the choreography and that too was immaculate. The ensemble moved with precision and grace. The orchestra, with conductor Adam Souza, was spot on with every note, every subtle sound. The costumes, the sets, the lighting… all superb. It’s hard to imagine these performers get up on stage every night, doing the exact same thing hundreds of times, yet give us their very best each night. I felt they were performing just for me; the sign of an amazing show. They are truly professionals and the reason Wicked has remained THE show to see when it comes to town, or you happen to be in one of the major cities around the world where it plays year round.
The supporting cast was admirable. Chris Peluso (Fiyero) is the happy go lucky rich kid who is just “Dancing Through Life” and reminds us “life is fraught-less when you’re thoughtless”. Zach Hanna (Boq, not “Bic”) has a huge heart, as he cares for the Witch’s sister, Michelle London (Nessarose), who did a particularly good job of portraying strength and evil as she went from wheelchair to feet (with the help of some slippers y’all might have heard of). I really wasn’t saddened at all when that farmhouse landed on her! Marilyn Caskey (Madame Morrible) plays the schoolmarm with “definish vocabularistic abilityism“ and keeps the story rolling along. Don Amendolia (The Wizard) is immediately recognizable from his work in movies and television. While solid, his performance may have been the least energized of the troupe.
Ticket prices may seem a little high, but it’s well worth it. You will love this show! For those of you on a budget, Charlotte Blumenthal has a lottery 3 hours before curtain for $25 seats at Ovens. See their website or give ‘em a call for more details. Following them on Twitter (@BlumenthalShows) and Facebook is a great way to learn of deals on shows! I highly recommend it.
Go green, go to Ovens, go enjoy the awesome performance of Wicked! It will change you … for good!