WICKED Flies Into The Majestic
So much happened before Dorothy dropped in.
Chances are, when you hear the name Dorothy, you think of one thing and one thing only: The Wizard of Oz. This is the tagline to one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time: Wicked. Currently playing a three-week stint at the Majestic Theatre, Wicked is the the untold story of the Witches of Oz. Everyone knows the story of the Wizard of Oz, how Glinda the Good Witch of the North helped Dorothy escape Oz with the Wicked Witch of the East's magic ruby slippers, much to the consternation of the infamous Wicked Witch of the West. However, until author Gregory Maguire wrote Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, there was no backstory to Oz and its witches, good and bad alike.
Adapted into a musical in 2003 by Stephen Schwartz (book by Winnie Holzman), Wicked shifts the focus of Oz's story to the Wicked and Good Witches' young adulthoods, and just how they came to be how we know them today. Putting a creative twist on the traditional Wizard of Oz story, Wicked has consistently been the top-grossing production on Broadway since it opened with stars Idina Menzel (as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch) and Kristin Chenoweth (as Glinda the Good) at its helm. It expertly plays on America's love of Oz, with enough originality that we do not feel as though we're watching a remake of the Judy Garland classic. Packed with humor inspired by the concept that Oz is similar to our world, but with everything knocked just a bit off-kilter, Wicked keeps the audience engaged with its creative dialogue, witty nods to its classic inspiration, and showstopping musical numbers that have worked their way into the mainstream music world like "Defying Gravity" and "Popular."
With no fewer than nine varied productions happening around the world, Wicked's 2nd National Tour (yes, there are TWO separate tours occurring in the US concurrently) stars Anne Brummel as Elphaba and Natalie Daradich as Glinda. Brummel ably worked her way to the top, transitioning from an ensemble member when this tour began, to Elphaba's standby, and recently the lead role. She performs the role as professionally as the seasoned vets, and carries the acrobatic musical numbers with ease.
Daradich has made the role of Glinda her own. Audience members who have experienced the show multiple times with different casts will recognize her portrayal of the character as a more mature Glinda - something I personally found refreshing as the role of Glinda seems to be skewing more and more to the hyperactive with time. Daradich has righted that ship and combines the right level of silliness and comedy with the maturity I've felt was originally intended for the character.
It's also worth mentioning (as a repeat Wicked attendee) that Tom McGowan succeeded in being the first Wizard to not make me lose interest in the story whenever his character was present. Harsh words for past performers? Perhaps. But I've never been a fan of The Wizard as a character, and it was lovely to have the role played lively enough to make it interesting rather than a bore. I must also give kudos to Billy Harrigan Tighe, the understudy for Fiyero, who went on both nights I saw the production. He was quite enjoyable.
Supporting Brummel, Daradich, and McGowan are Marilyn Caskey (Madame Morrible), Zach Hanna (Boq), Michelle London (Nessarose), Martin Moran (Dr. Dillamond), and David Nathan Perlow (Fiyero), with a wonderful, high-quality ensemble.
Wicked is playing at The Majestic through March 6. Tickets are available at the box office or via Ticketmaster. Don't miss your chance to see this global phenomenon. Wicked is recommended for ages 8 and up.