WICKED BEWITCHES BUFFALO! (3 Stars out of 4)

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Here's the review from the Buffalo News:

http://www.buffalonews.com/entertainment/story/374583.html

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'Wicked' Enchants Fans in Flight of Fancy at Shea's
BY COLIN DABKOWSKI, News Staff Reviewer

Forget all about Kansas, Toto. I have a feeling we’re not even on Broadway anymore. After nearly a year of giddy anticipation from Broadway fans across Western New York, the blockbuster musical “Wicked” has swooped into town for a monthlong run that started Wednesday night in Shea’s Performing Arts Center. And if Thursday’s official opening night performance was any indication, it’s been well worth the wait.

The show takes place, if not over the rainbow, somewhere deep beneath it. It’s based on the 1995 novel “Wicked,” Gregory Maguire’s transposition of L. Frank Baum’s famous fantasy dream world into his own macabre and moralistic nightmare about the shady origins of the Wicked Witch of the West and the entire crew led by “that wretched little farm girl” Dorothy.

In a sense, the message not so subtly encoded in Maguire’s book — be careful who you demonize — found a hospitable and arguably more appropriate home in the stagecraft wizardry and swelling orchestration of this Broadway musical, a form given more to lush, broad strokes than complex psychological depth.

And with Stephen Schwartz’s music and lyrics, boy are those strokes broad. The score, which at times veers toward what sounds like a “South Park” parody of the typical Broadway musical, is for the most part rooted in an instantly recognizable and formulaic pop sensibility that has clearly struck a chord with millions of teenage fans. Which is not to say there aren’t some runaway winners in the song department. “Popular” is popular for a reason, which is essentially that it’s the one of the few lyrically inspired tunes in the show. And “Defying Gravity,” while maybe a bit over the top (oh my God, we’re in a new key again!) is nonetheless capable of transporting audiences to new sonic heights.

Schwartz also deserves credit for his pair of clever vaudeville-inspired numbers, “A Sentimental Man” and “Wonderful,” both performed with great panache in this tour by the very George Wallace-esque Lee Wilkof.

As Elphaba, the green-hued and much maligned girl whose grand ambitions are shattered by the cruel and Orwellian populace of Oz, Carmen Cusack gives an excellent performance, revealing herself as a fine comic actor and a good singer. Katie Rose Clarke does an excellent impression of Molly Shannon’s comic body language and, when she gets around to it, isn’t half bad either at playing Elphaba’s hyper-goodie two shoes roommate and eventual nemesis Galinda/ Glinda the Good.

They’re joined by the formidable talent of Cliffton Hall as the aloof prince Fiyero and the viciously honed and thrilling performance of Alma Cuervo as the deplorable Madame Morrible.

In transition from book to stage, the story at the heart of Maguire’s book has unintentionally taken a turn back toward the uncomplicated world of Baum’s Oz. But in refusing to adapt “Wicked” into a children’s book, Maguire and later the show’s creators have wisely and effectively funneled millions of teens and children into the happy, glittering world of Broadway’s unapologetically popular side.

And that, by any measure, is a change for good.

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Review

Three stars (out of four)

WHAT: “Wicked”

WHEN: Through July 13

WHERE: Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St.

TICKETS: $34.50 to $127.50

INFO: 847-1410 or www.sheas.org



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"To love another person is to see the face of God!"
Updated On: 6/20/08 at 10:08 AM
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I just got a chance to read through this review.

Not the best written theater article, for sure! HAHA!

The NEWS must have been tight on space last night because a touring spectacle like this would normally get much better coverage. It's all the theater talked about for the past year!

In any event, I do strongly agree with one of it's thoughts: That we would probably have been disappointed if the Jackee' rumor came true, because Alma Cuervo as Madame Morrible truly was FANTASTIC!
"To love another person is to see the face of God!"
Updated On: 6/21/08 at 02:37 PM
Bdwy24
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Alma is fantastic isn't she?

Probably part of the reason why it isn't such a large review is because Colin only has about a half hour to write it by the time the show is over.

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blaxx
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In a sense, the message not so subtly encoded in Maguire’s book — be careful who you demonize — found a hospitable and arguably more appropriate home in the stagecraft wizardry and swelling orchestration of this Broadway musical, a form given more to lush, broad strokes than complex psychological depth.

And with Stephen Schwartz’s music and lyrics, boy are those strokes broad. The score, which at times


???


Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE
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Hey BLAXX,

There was an ad in there that split the sentence.
I fixed it.

"To love another person is to see the face of God!"
wicked4l
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I know right! whats with that?! The article really had nothing negative to say but it could have been better. I definitely expected a 3 and a 1/2
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blaxx
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Oh, it wasn't about the gap, but about the pseudo-writer trying to say that the show works better than the book. As if.
Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE
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Dancin Thru Life
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Yeah! That too!

HAHA!

I'm a little embarrassed by the review myself.
As fantastic as the performances were, the review should have been as good.

I have no idea what He was trying to get at in those opening paragraphs.
It's more of a book report, no? HAHA!

:)
"To love another person is to see the face of God!"
puppetman2
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This guy is the worst critic you could imagine. All his reviews are terrible. I wish I knew what sewer the paper got him from.
It Sucks To Be Me
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So...anyone see it Friday or Saturday?

Who's going Sunday?

I'll be out of town working on a new project, but will be back to see it next Sunday again with another group of folks who have never seen it yet.

I'm excited to see what they think about it!
"To love another person is to see the face of God!"
Updated On: 6/22/08 at 05:25 PM
lcinva
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I actually saw it Friday and Saturday (I bought two sets of tickets to ensure I saw Carmen...I have terrible luck when it comes to seeing her, and I love her voice!).

Friday, the whole principal cast was on. Did a great job, seemed like Carmen was phoning in. No riffing at all, straight to the score, she did "talk-singing" more than she actually sang. I was kind of disappointed because the times I have seen her before she is fantastic.

Saturday: Donna was in, as well as u/s for Fiyero and Nessa. Donna was fabulous, better than the first time I saw her. She really dominated Carmen, which makes me think Carmen was sick - her voice just wasn't powerful. U/s for Fiyero rushed his lines and didn't give Fiyero a personality. Nessa was ok, nothing great. Still a great great show though, because of Donna and Katie.

Maybe I'll start another thread on this not to hijack - My personal experience is a 50% success rate on seeing Carmen. Is it just bad luck, or is she sick all the time? I would love to see her go to Broadway when Kerry leaves, but it seems like she is out more than she's in. Thoughts?
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IdinaBellFoster
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Saw it today, with understudies for Elphaba, Glinda, Fiyero and Nessarose.

Donna Vivino and Melissa Bohon were fantastic (and seemed like they've been going on a lot). Although at times you could have put Kendra Kassebaum in the show, and I still would have thought it was Melissa. I had heard good things about Donna, and she did not disappoint.

Blake Whyte as Fiyero...ick. A good actor can usually make this role rise above the simpleness it is...he did not do that; he exposed all the flaws of the character.

Kristine Reese was a fine Nessarose, nothing major to report. Though it was evident that this girl has a voice beyond what the score was allowing her.

I have tickets for Tueaday, and hopefully I will see Carmen, Katie, Clifton and DeeDee.

"Oh look at the time, three more intelligent plays just closed and THE ADDAMS FAMILY made another million dollars" -Jackie Hoffman, Broadway.com Audience Awards
Updated On: 6/22/08 at 07:00 PM
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Thanks IBF!

Wonder if those four were out sight-seeing or eating WINGS on their day off?? HAHA!

Seeing it again next Sunday and hoping for the best!



"To love another person is to see the face of God!"
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IdinaBellFoster
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Well I have the feeling Katie is not doing afternoon shows, due to her recent absence due to vocal problems, because my sister missed her on Thursday afternoon.

I was not shocked to see Clifton and DeeDee out together haha.

Question: Do you have to be 18 to play the lottery?
"Oh look at the time, three more intelligent plays just closed and THE ADDAMS FAMILY made another million dollars" -Jackie Hoffman, Broadway.com Audience Awards
Updated On: 6/22/08 at 07:40 PM
Bdwy24
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Anyone can play the Lottery as long as you can fill out your own name.
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Hey IdinaBellFoster!

How was the show tonight?

...Or are you still driving home? HAHA!

Got a new gang going again Sunday.
"To love another person is to see the face of God!"
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millie_dillmount
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Alma is back with the show? I saw it in Oct. in Boston and thought I saw someone else. Maybe I'm mistaken, but did she leave the tour at one point?
"We like to snark around here. Sometimes we actually talk about theater...but we try not to let that get in our way." - dramamama611
puppetman2
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Am seeing this Sunday's (29th) matinee. Will post the cast when I get home.
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Hey MILLIE,

Your memory is correct!
Here's Alma's history with the show:

Alma Cuervo replaced Carole Shelley as Madame Morrible on March 8, 2006.

Barbara Tirrell replaced Alma Cuervo as Madame Morrible on January 16, 2007.

Alma Cuervo returned to the role of Madame Morrible on November 14, 2007.

Glad to have Her back, as She is GREAT in the role!
"To love another person is to see the face of God!"
elphiesmagic
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If Carmen really is out so often, perhaps Donna should be the one to replace Kerry Ellis on Broadway. The feedback here matches my experience with seeing Donna as Elphaba.
Brian had sex, with a really dumb girl, now he's taking his friend Stewie, to get some ice cream, in his car.
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For those of you who have seen it so far at Shea's, how have the audiences been (responsive-wise and as far as filling up the theatre)?

I'm going July 12th!
lcinva
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elphie's magic...I kind of thought that too, even though I prefer her to Donna. With her being out as much as it seemed to me (50% of 6 times going, no matinees) I just couldn't imagine they would bring Carmen to Broadway - which made me really sad!! However, other people have said I just have really bad luck and she has impeccable attendance. So - I don't know about that. It's frustrating though!!

To zameda - audiences have been hit or miss, on Friday night it was totally lackluster with no entrance applause, on Saturday everybody was really excited and entertained.
Bdwy24
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Zamedy. The theatre has been down to single seats so far for every performance.

Carmen has been sounding FANTASTIC!
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metoog
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I saw the show twice in Rochester and Carmen was out both times. Donna was in and did not disappoint anyone - she is great. Really wanted to see Carmen one of the times since I have heard so much about her.
"there are people in our lives who change us in a way that nobody else can, and it's not necessarily the people you expect," Menzel
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Saw the show again last night, and Katie, Clifton and DeeDee are still out, Carmen is back though.

Per Kristine Reese (Understudy Nessarose), Katie will be back to doing evening shows next week fully (she's still not doing afternoon shows) and Clifton and DeeDee are on vacation until next week.

On a different note, Meggie Cansler was fantastic as Glinda, best I've ever seen.
"Oh look at the time, three more intelligent plays just closed and THE ADDAMS FAMILY made another million dollars" -Jackie Hoffman, Broadway.com Audience Awards