Review: WICKED Casts a Spell at The Landmark Theatre

By: Mar. 17, 2017
Jessica Vosk. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The latest musical playing at Syracuse's historical Landmark Theatre is none other than the three time Tony Award-winning musical Wicked. The successful Broadway blockbuster with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman has everything - an amazing cast, spectacular sets, gorgeous costumes, and, of course, those famous Witches of Oz.

The musical production is based on Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. The novel is a twist on the L. Frank Baum classic tale of The Wizard of Oz and the iconic film of the same name that starred Judy Garland. The musical gives the witches perspective of what really happened in the Land of Oz even before Dorothy dropped in. Believe it or not, Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West (Elphaba, or "Elphie" as Glinda calls her) were schoolmates, and eventually friends - and that is precisely how the story begins in this high-Flying Musical complete with a bubble, broomsticks, ball gowns, and that famous pointed hat.

Wicked has certainly been quite the phenomenon since opening at the Gershwin Theatre in 2003 starring Idina Menzel as Elphaba and Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda. and it continues to cast its spell wherever it lands. Wicked's familiar characters, the message, unlikely friendships, and story of overcoming obstacles is what makes the show an easy one to fall in love with.

Like many others, I grew up watching The Wizard of Oz, I dressed up as Glinda for Halloween. I went to the Oz Fest in Chittenango, NY every year and even got an autograph from one of the actors that played a munchkin in the movie! Then I went on my first trip to New York City in 2003 and saw the original cast perform Wicked. I was instantly hooked as soon as Kristin Chenoweth floated down in that bubble. The musical will always have a special place in my heart because of the story, music, and the memories I have of seeing it with my sister - the Elphie to my Glinda.

The present touring production brilliantly directed by Joe Mantello does not disappoint because it has the magic, the energy, and the talent. The leading ladies are powerful and passionate as they belt out the familiar hits "Defying Gravity," "Popular," and "For Good" while backed by the talented orchestra conducted by Dan Micciche.

Jessica Vosk plays the green girl, Elphaba, and she is breathtaking in the role. Her vocals and acting are pure perfection; she lands every joke flawlessly. She captures Elphaba's quirky personality, passion, and kindness in every lyric, line, and facial expression. She lights up the stage in "The Wizard and I;" takes your breath away in "Defying Gravity;" and casts a spell in "No Good Deed."

Ginna Claire Mason is confident and comedic in the role of Glinda. As soon as she floats down in the bubble and sings out those operatic high notes in "No One Mourns the Wicked" she dazzles, and that is not just because of the sparkly blue ball gown, wand, and crown. Her beauty, charm, and hilarious facial expressions make her performance a memorable one. Her performance of "Popular" is particularly memorable and highly hilarious as she prances about the stage.

The numerous duets between Elphaba and Glinda work really well because of the chemistry between Jessica Vosk and Ginna Claire Mason. "What is This Feeling," "One Short Day," and of course "For Good" are thus major highlights.

The rest of the supporting cast put on stellar performances as well. Fred Applegate as the Wizard is comedic, sly, and confident as he struts about the stage showing off the "wonderful" qualities of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He is especially charming in the musical number "Wonderful." Jeremy Woodard, as Glinda/Elphaba's love interest Fiyero, charms as the school bad boy in "Dancing Through Life" and has amazing chemistry with Jessica Vosk as they passionately sing "As Long As You're Mine." Isabel Keating is perfectly evil as Madame Morrible. Her killer facial expressions and powerful vocals help her steal the spotlight every time she steps on the stage. Kristen Martin as Nessarose (Elphaba's sister) is spectacular as she belts out her solo number "The Wicked Witch of the East." Harry Bouvy (Doctor Dillamond, Elphaba and Glinda's teacher) is brilliant in his duet "Something Bad" along with Jessica Vosk.

The rest of the ensemble portray numerous other characters including monkeys, students, Denizens of Emerald City, and palace guards beautifully. They dazzle in the gorgeous costumes by Susan Hilferty. We meet the various characters in numerous magical settings throughout the show, including Shiz University (Elphaba and Glinda's school) and The Emerald City. Eugene Lee's sets transport us to these locations. The lighting by Kenneth Posner, special effects by Chic Silber, and projections by Elaine J. McCarthy work together to enhance the breathtaking musical numbers and the story of Wicked.

Wicked is a must-see because of the story twist, the talented performers, the dazzling special effects, and breathtaking musical numbers. It is a show that you can see again and again and fall in love with it every time.

Running Time: Approximately two hours and forty-five minutes with one twenty minute intermission.

Guidance: Good for 8 and up due to some high quality and scary for younger children special effects.

Wicked runs through March 26, 2017 at The Landmark Theatre in Syracuse, NY as part of the Famous Artists Broadway Theatre Series, Broadway in Syracuse. For tickets and tour information, click here. For information on Broadway In Syracuse, click here.

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