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Boston Touring Company Is 'Wicked' Good

Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz; book by Winnie Holzman; based on the novel by Gregory Maguire; settings by Eugene Lee; costumes by Susan Hilferty; lighting by Kenneth Posner; sound by Tony Meola; orchestrations by William David Brohn; music supervisor, Stephen Oremus; musical staging by Wayne Cilento; directed by Joe Mantello

Cast in order of appearance:
Glinda, Christina DeCicco; Witch's Father, Paul Slade Smith; Witch's Mother, Lori Holmes; Midwife, Leslie Becker; Elphaba, Victoria Matlock; Nessarose, DeeDee Magno Hall; Boq, Brad Weinstock; Madame Morrible, Barbara Tirrell; Doctor Dillamond, Tom Flynn; Fiyero, Cliffton Hall; The Wonderful Wizard, P.J. Benjamin; Chistery, Kyle Hill

Performances: Now through November 11, The Opera House, 539 Washington  St., Boston, Mass.
Box Office: Ticketmaster, 617-931-2787 or www.ticketmaster.com; The Opera House or The Colonial Theater, 106 Boylston St., Boston, Mass.; BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com. A limited number of day-of-performance $25 lottery seats (cash only) are available in-person at the box office prior to each show. People must submit their names 2-1/2 hours before curtain. Thirty minutes later, winners will be drawn. Limit two tickets per person.

For those who think the smash hit Broadway musical Wicked is nothing more than a tween girl sensation, take a look at the crowds that are buzzing in the lobby of the historic Opera House now that the national tour of this record-breaking phenomenon has landed in Boston once again. Families, younger couples, older couples, groups, teens, tweens, and men and women of all ages are clamoring for tickets to this musical juggernaut that in five years has become a world-wide franchise.

And rightly so. Based on the same-titled Gregory Maguire novel which itself is based on the iconic Frank L. Baum series that inspired the beloved movie The Wizard of Oz, Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman's Wicked is a rare commodity these days. It's an intelligent book musical with an accessible original score that features two dynamic yet imperfect heroines who grow and change for the better when faced with difficult challenges. It has heart, humor, and a social and political conscience woven cleverly into a universally appealing story of friendship and courage.

Starring Victoria Matlock as the good but misunderstood awkward green girl Elphaba who later becomes the hated Wicked Witch of the West and Christina DeCicco as her blonde, popular, celebrity-seeking but ultimately right-doing counterpart Glinda the Good, this national touring company of Wicked has seemingly brought even more intensity to an established winner. The dramatic tension that drives Elphaba to oppose the Wizard's oppressive control over Oz but leads Glinda to choose a career as his spin doctor is heightened in this production, making the women's friendship and anguish over taking opposing stands on the governmental battlefield that much more powerful. Both actresses find layers in their characters that enhance their love for one another but also deepen their inner conflicts, thus making their ultimate acts of heroism that much more difficult and exalted. Both of their performances are filled with originality and charm. They bring their own sincere interpretations to roles that could (and have in the hands of some replacements) easily become superficial knock-offs of the originals.

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Jan Nargi Jan Nargi is owner and creative director of JMN Publications, a marketing and public relations firm based in Boston, Mass. She provides consultation, communications, and writing services to clients in the health care, entertainment, financial, retail, manufacturing, non-profit, and sports industries. As a freelance writer, Jan has had hundreds of articles published in business and high-tech magazines. Theatrically, she has reviewed, written, directed, acted, produced, sung, danced, managed publicity, pounded nails, and designed lighting and sets. Jan has even acted in the occasional B-movie, playing a zombie, a psycho shrink, and a clueless news reporter. You may visit her on the web at www.jmnpublications.com.

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