BWW Reviews: WICKED Defies Gravity in Fresno
"Wicked" arrives in Fresno this week with two new witches at the broom and wand. They share their experience with children and adults new to the musical's magic, and the special quality of the leads' first week of performances makes the production enjoyable for the more familiar, familial audience members, as well.
Fresh from Broadway's "Newsies," Kara Lindsay makes her "Wicked" debut as Glinda the eventually Good. Back in her college days, the high-class rich girl knows how to get her way and her man, and her perky humor adds to her popularity, both with classmates and with the audience. Where other actresses have overplayed Glinda's dramatic flair, Lindsay plays the character's hyper personality just right: plenty of comedy balanced with a realistic portrayal.
Laurel Harris, who has previously understudied main roles in "Wicked," is Glinda's roommate, nemesis, friend and eventual counterpart, the Wicked Witch, better known as Elphaba in her college years. Harris lives up to her epic predecessors in the role. Angry, hurt, frustrated, hopeful, disappointed, in love, she embodies the relatable character. But to describe either of the leads further would require spoiling much of the surprising plot to any first timers (there are plenty of "Wizard of Oz" references thrown in for fun). Suffice it to say that both Lindsay and Harris deliver the goods (and the Wicked) with incredible vocals. As do the supporting leads: a very cute prince named Fiyero (Matt Shingledecker), a munchkin with high inspirations (Lee Slobotkin as Boq), headmistress Madame Morrible (the delightfully haughty Kathy Fitzgerald), Elphaba's tragically beautiful sister Nessarose (Emily Behny) and the Wonderful Wizard himself (Gene Weygandt).
The production features all the usual spectacular visuals and special effects. It wouldn't be the world of Oz without some flying and bubble travel. Susan Hilferty's whimsical costumes, Tom Watson's unique wigs and hair design, Eugene Lee's clock-inspired scenic designs and Kenneth Posner's lighting continue to wow, while the overall production maintains its ability to defy gravity.
"Wicked" also returns to Northern California next month in Sacramento. Return to BroadwayWord.com and visit our Sacramento page at the end of May / beginning of June for our review of a completely different cast!
Through April 1
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