Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think Of WICKED On Tour?

The tour is back on the road and the reviews are in!

By: Sep. 22, 2021


Wicked is back on the road across the country, and the reviews are in! The cast includes Talia Suskauer (Elphaba), Allison Bailey (Glinda), Sharon Sachs (Madame Morrible) and Tony Award and Drama Desk Award winner Cleavant Derricks (The Wizard).

The Broadway sensation Wicked looks at what happened in the Land of Oz...but from a different angle. Long before Dorothy arrives, there is another young woman, born with emerald-green skin, who is smart, fiery, misunderstood, and possessing an extraordinary talent. When she meets a bubbly blonde who is exceptionally popular, their initial rivalry turns into the unlikeliest of friendships...until the world decides to call one "good," and the other one "wicked."

With a thrilling score that includes the hits "Defying Gravity," "Popular" and "For Good," Wicked has been hailed by The New York Times as "the defining musical of the decade," and by Time Magazine as "a magical Broadway musical with brains, heart, and courage." NBC Nightly News calls the hit musical "the most successful Broadway show ever."

Now the 5th longest running show in Broadway history, Wicked is the winner of over 100 international awards including the Grammy Award and three Tony Awards. Since opening in 2003, Wicked has been performed in over 100 cities in 16 countries around the world (U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, Germany, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, The Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Switzerland and China) and has thus far been translated into six languages: Japanese, German, Dutch, Spanish, Korean and Portuguese. Wicked has been seen by over 60 million people worldwide and has amassed over $5 billion in global sales.

Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, Wicked has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and a book by Winnie Holzman. The production is directed by Tony Award winner Joe Mantello with musical staging by Tony Award winner Wayne Cilento. Wicked is produced by Marc Platt, Universal Stage Productions, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and David Stone.

Ovens Auditorium - Charlotte, NC

Adam Bell, Charlotte Observer: The show itself, for the few uninitiated, depicts the intertwined lives of the two witches. There's Bailey's Glinda "the good," a soprano who hits all the right notes, but brings her character down to earth in the melancholy reprise of "I'm Not That Girl." She also gets the timing just right on several throwaway comic bits. And Talia Suskauer's green-hued "wicked" Witch of the West, Elphaba, simply owns the role from the start, whether it's her yearning softly that "I'm Not That Girl," or the crowd-pleasing, first act finale belting "Defying Gravity." No one is gonna bring her down.

Music Hall at Fair Park - Dallas, TX

Emily Short, BroadwayWorld: It was an incredible experience to be back in a theater watching a live performance. The cast and crew of Wicked delivered a show that we all desperately needed. The acting was flawless, the singing was striking, the costumes were perfect, the set transported us directly to the heart of Oz, and the lighting was the tool that brought everything together. I would like to say a big "CONGRATULOTIONS!" to everyone who was involved in this performance. I know because I saw it, "I have been changed for the better," and you will be, too.

Fox Cities Performing Arts Center - Appleton, WI

Warren Gerds, We Are Green Bay: Two personalities drive the story, and the performers playing those personalities are top-flight talent for all they do and how they do it. Glinda is goody-two-shoes sweet until push comes to shove. She's portrayed by Allison Bailey, who molds special bits of voice and body, like a swift leg kick to accent a cute word. Elphaba automatically off-turns people in the story with her green skin and bristly, straightforward mouth until she lets known her warmth. She's played by Talia Suskauer, a spitfire all around. Whether in solo or as a duet, Allison Bailey and Talia Suskauer sing in tight and sensational ways. They make a compelling team. The roles are huge, requiring energy akin to that delivered by pro athletes performance after performance. Elphaba literally rises above with full-out, heart-torn singing, notably in "Defying Gravity" that ends Act I in a wowing rush. Wednesday, the house filled with a roar.

Playhouse Square - Cleveland, OH

Howard Gollop, The Chronicle: This production is a cut above the previous tour that came through Cleveland a few years back. But even in a lesser effort, "Wicked" remains the kind of celebration preteen girls (and older women) can savor. Only this time, the magic may transcend into a much broader appreciation.

Sheri Gross, Cleveland Jewish News: As Elphaba, Suskauer embraces her vulnerable side and her admirable strength as her character develops from a "green" teen to a mature advocate for the underdog. Her incredible vocal prowess is showcased in all of her musical numbers, but especially in "Defying Gravity," when her body and soul are lifted into the air, and her big booming voice carries us with her.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts - Costa Mesa, CA

Michael Quintos, BroadwayWorld: What helps the show feel as relevant and as entertaining now as it did during its early years is certainly helped by a fresh cast bringing new and exciting life to these now familiar characters. This post-lockdown relaunched national tour is headlined by two spectacular leads: the intriguing Talia Suskauer as Elphaba and the effervescent Allison Bailey as G(a)linda.

Christopher Smith, The Orange County Register: Elphaba is the brainy counterpoint, and Talia Suskauer's treatment of this older-and-wiser-than-her-years woman - one burning with a social conscience and an acute understanding of all the ways she fails to fit in - was sourced in acting that that is affectingly internalized. Not an easy feat is as joyfully noisy a show as "Wicked" is.

Spokane Arena - Spokane, WA

Carolyn Lamberson, The Spokesman-Review: As Elphaba, Talia Suskauer brings an intriguing combination of awkwardness and determination to the future Wicked Witch of the West. We empathize with her because we can see she is kind and loveable. And Suskauer has a lovely voice, too, fully on display whether she's singing the lovely first-act number "I'm Not That Girl" or the soaring anthem "Defying Gravity." As Glinda, Allison Bailey has the showy part. Sure, she plays the ditzy (but not really dumb) blonde, but Bailey shows that she is a deft comic. Aside from possessing a pretty soprano voice, Bailey can make even Glinda's really awkward dance moves look hilarious, and her timing is impeccable when Glinda drops her patented one-liners.

SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center - Sacramento, CA

Courtney Symes, BroadwayWorld: Admittedly, this was my first time seeing Wicked (a sensitive subject for a theatre-goer). They had me hooked with the flying monkeys before the curtain even opened but, when it did, I was immediately transported to another world. A world of magical steampunk-meets-Beetlejuice-meets Sweeney Todd costumes, wondrous characters, and settings that inspired open-mouthed awe. If I had thought that was enough (I did!), they had much more in store!

Orpheum Theater - Omaha, NE

Courtney Brummer-Clark, No one may "mourn the wicked" witch, but there are certainly reasons to celebrate her. Or at least the version of her portrayed by tour actress Lissa deGuzman. As Elphaba, deGuzman's performance could equal, if not surpass, those who wear the same black hat on the Broadway stage. To say her vocal range in songs like "The Wizard and I," "Defying Gravity" and "No Good Deed" was powerful is an understatement.

Columbus Theatre - Columbus, OH

Christina Mancuso, BroadwayWorld: Lissa deGuzman is fairly new to the Wicked world, landing her dream role of Elphaba and joining the tour in late March after playing Jasmine in the touring production of ALADDIN. While very technically precise vocally and endearingly awkward, deGuzman really got her rhythm going in the second Act. She showed her tenderness and vulnerability with Jordan Litz (Fiyero) in "As Long as You're Mine," and belted out a triumphant "No Good Deed," officially claiming her title as Wicked Witch of the West.

Boston Opera House - Boston, MA

Don Aucoin, The Boston Globe: As the opening notes to "Wicked" sounded on Thursday night, a little girl seated in front of me excitedly reached over and clasped her mother's hand. There it was, the old "Wicked" magic, undimmed. That snapshot instant - and the palpable joy the girl evinced throughout the ensuing performance at the Citizens Bank Opera House - told the larger story of this singular musical.

Orpheum Theatre - Minneapolis, MN

Jared Fessler, BroadwayWorld: It may have been my twelfth time seeing this show, but it's been over a few years since I last saw it. I know the production, songs, story, etc but every time that I have seen it, I always catch something new and especially with this production, the show that I went to had. I also enjoy how each of the talented cast members in this production in particular stays true to their characters but also puts their spins on their characters. There were moments when I was like "oh I don't remember that line, was that added recently?" It was just so good to see the electrifying staging, costumes, set, and the very talented cast!

Basil Considine, Twin Cities Arts Reader: If those are the bones of the show, what will you get from seeing the national tour of Wicked? For starters, killer performances by Lissa deGuzman as Elphaba (better know as the Wicked Witch of West) and Jennafer Newberry as her foil Galinda (better known as Glinda the Good). Their comedic repartee and duetting are standout features of the show. Another standout is the special effects, particularly the use of lighting in combination with practical effects to create engrossing, rippling tableaus of color. When Elphaba takes to the skies at the end of Act 1, it is simply cool.

Chrysler Hall - Norfolk, VA

Page R. Laws, Daily Press

James M. Nederlander Theatre - Chicago, IL

Dennis Polkow, New City Stage: Despite the atemporal quality that "Wicked" exudes, coming back to it is a reminder that it was always a traditional Broadway musical in form. Stephen Schwartz's remarkably clever and melody-driven songs are character-driven and move the action forward. We feel what they feel. We have empathy even when many Ozians and even the Wizard himself cannot. The one-liners and gags are almost vaudeville-like in their simplicity, although are never oversold.

Sheri Flanders, Chicago Sun Times: The camaraderie between deGuzman and Newberry is palpable, and they're a fun pair to watch, sparring and sniping across the stage as Elphaba is brutally bullied by, well, everyone. Eventually Galinda's minuscule conscience catches up with her, and she befriends Elphaba, going against her superficial instincts. Although there were several children in attendance in the audience, I caution parents that this play is not a morality tale for kids, as the duo's friendship is ultimately more "frenemy" than friend.

Dr. Phillips Center - Orlando, FL

Aaron Wallace, BroadwayWorld: Its songbook is the sonic equivalent of Technicolor, a veritable Emerald City of songs that slap. You undoubtedly know "Defying Gravity," a song to which approximately 99.3% of the Dr. Phillips audience gratefully resisted adding their unsolicited voices on Thursday night. That left room for the star of the show, Lissa deGuzman, to belt that ballad on a broom like nobody's business - and like nobody's Elphaba.

Quinn Rosebook, Attractions Magazine: While this was my fourth time seeing the show, it was my fiancé's first! He said it was a fun, energetic show that had everything he expected, but also that he was surprised by some of the plot, and really loved the callbacks and references to the original Wizard of Oz story and the 1939 film. I say that it remains one of my favorites and that "Wicked" is a quintessential musical must for any theater fan.

Straz Center - Tampa, FL

Deborah Bostock-Kelley, BroadwayWorld: While Jennafer and Lissa were spellbinding opposites, Natalie Venetia Belcon, as Madame Morrible, stole the stage with her huge booming vocals in "The Wizard and I." Timothy Shew, as the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was the perfect fraudster. When he sings, "Cause I think everyone deserves the chance to fly and helping you with your ascent allows me to feel so parental," little does he know to whom he's singing.

Kravis Center for the Performing Arts - West Palm Beach, FL

Mary Damiano, Palm Beach Daily News: As Glinda, Newberry has the showier role and wrings hilarity out of her dialogue. But DeGuzman is a powerhouse. Whether lamenting that the handsome new student won't see her as anything but the green outcast on "I'm Not That Girl," or looking toward a bright future and fulfilling her potential on "The Wizard and I," or literally soaring to new heights on the show's signature song "Defying Gravity," DeGuzman portrays Elphaba's many facets with spunk and poignancy.

Fox Theatre - St. Louis, MO

Tina Farmer, Riverfront Times: Jennafer Newberry, as Glinda, and Lissa deGuzman, as Elphaba, fill their characters with distinct personalities without missing a note in the cleverly constructed but often vocally challenging score. Newberry shows Glinda's heart while making the most of every ditzy, goofy moment, and her misuse of oddly combined words gets laughs without ever demeaning the character. DeGuzman gives us an Elphaba, who occasionally reveals her pain and vulnerability in ways that are compelling and relatable. The performers give us fully formed characters to embrace, and their exceptional vocals were textured, emotional and powerful in every part of their ranges. It is so satisfying to hear rich, pure alto tones that perfectly complement the soprano notes.

Wharton Center - East Lansing, MI

David Winkelstern, City Pulse: Every cast member in the 30-plus troupe gives an outstanding performance. (That includes Sharon Sachs, who replaced Natalie Venetia Belcon in Thursday night's (May 11) show as Madame Morrible.) Oz's Munchkins, ensemble townspeople and exquisite principals demonstrate rare talent in singing, dancing and athleticism in the constantly evolving musical by Stephen Schwartz.

Hobby Center for the Performing Arts - Houston, TX

Armando Urdiales, BroadwayWorld: The cast of the current Wicked tour is truly exceptional, bringing the beloved characters of Elphaba (Olivia Valli) and Glinda (Celia Hottenstein) to life with extraordinary talent. Their chemistry on stage is palpable, as they navigate the complex relationship between the misunderstood green-skinned Elphaba and the popular and bubbly Glinda. The vocal prowess and emotional depth of the actors truly shine through, capturing the hearts of the audience from the opening number to the final bow.

Fox Theatre - Atlanta, GA

Wendell Brock, AJC: Time can reshape how some emotional material lands, and I can’t help but notice how “Wicked” ricochets in new and unexpected ways. For instance, when the nasty business about animals being stripped of their dignity and their ability to speak rears its head, you may recognize something akin to the culture wars of the present day. Hate is omnipresent, as are pretenders hiding behind curtains.

Sammie Purcell, Rough Draft Atlanta: But as soon as the curtain rises, it doesn’t really matter if you’ve never seen “Wicked’ or if you’ve seen it 100 times. The magic and strength of Stephen Schwartz’s music is still as potent today as it was 20 years ago, the story just as winkingly sly and emotionally resonant. And with two dynamite leading ladies at the helm, this production is not one to miss. 

Peace Center - Greenville, SC

Paul Hyde, Greenville Journal: The current cast of the national tour is stunning. Olivia Valli, who knocked our socks off a mere 18 months ago when she visited the Peace Center as Vivian Ward in “Pretty Woman,” returns in this tour as Elphaba, the green Wicked Witch of the West who is loathed by the people of Oz for the sin of being different.

Durham Performing Arts Center - Durham, NC

Nicole Ackman, BroadwayWorld: The national tour’s cast does a splendid job of breathing new life into the story, from Tara Kostmayer’s earnest Nessarose to Kyle McArthur’s enthusiastic Boq. Olivia Valli has all the pluck and inner fire an Elphaba needs, in addition to great vocals that make “The Wizard and I” and “No Good Deed” highlights of the show. But Celia Hottenstein’s Glinda is also excellent, perfectly hitting all the subtle acting points that make her a rather tragic character. In the opening “No One Mourns the Wicked,” she seems to be trying to convince herself as she tells the munchkins her “good news.” 


Video: WICKED Tour Stars Share Tips on How to Change the Planet For Good Photo
Video: WICKED Tour Stars Share Tips on How to Change the Planet 'For Good'

Electric Owl Studios, the greenest studio on earth, opened their doors to the Broadway Green Alliance and the stars of Wicked, Olivia Valli (Elphaba) and Celia Hottenstein (Glinda), to highlight the importance of creating sustainable production practices. Valli and Hottenstein toured the Electric Owl Studios campus and along the way learned tips on ways fans can implement green practices into their everyday lives. Watch the video here!

WICKED National Tour Will Welcome Olivia Valli and Celia Hottenstein Photo
WICKED National Tour Will Welcome Olivia Valli and Celia Hottenstein

The National Tour of the Broadway sensation WICKED will welcome Olivia Valli as Elphaba and Celia Hottenstein as Glinda beginning performances Tuesday, May 2 at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis, MO.

New Cast Members Will Join WICKED National Tour Next Month Photo
New Cast Members Will Join WICKED National Tour Next Month

The National Tour of Broadway sensation WICKED will welcome new cast members beginning next month!

WICKED National Tour Celebrates 5,000th Performance In Minneapolis Photo
WICKED National Tour Celebrates 5,000th Performance In Minneapolis

Pictured here is the touring company underneath the Orpheum Theatre marquee in Minneapolis.



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