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BWW Review: WICKED Brings Dallas Back Together


The story of Elphaba and Glinda shares a timely message while bringing the people of Dallas back together. August 3-September 5 at Music Hall at Fair Park.

BWW Review: WICKED Brings Dallas Back Together

You may have heard of Wicked. Maybe you've even had the privilege of attending a live performance of the beloved musical, but you have not experienced it in the same atmosphere as I did at Music Hall at Fair Park on August 5, 2021.

The collective excitement of the audience members was evident, but the space became electric as soon as the five-minute warning started playing over the intercom. Eager attendees taking their seats all over the gorgeous theater, the crowd was buzzing in anticipation for the lights to dim. The stage curtain displayed a large map bathed in green light, Emerald City placed directly in the center with a glistening glow. Everyone was there for the same reason-to see Wicked, yes, but more importantly, to see Wicked together. All eyes shifting their focus to that shining city in the center of the map, it was time to begin our journey to Oz.

The crowd erupted as the curtain finally lifted to reveal various townspeople and flying monkeys. "No One Mourns the Wicked" was beautifully performed while setting the tone of anger and animosity that would be threaded throughout the rest of the musical. The charming Glinda, played by Allison Bailey, provided the comedic relief we needed at that moment and all the way to the end of the performance. Bailey did an impeccable job portraying the gorgeous Glinda who was certainly more adorable than academic. She had the audience laughing hysterically, rolling their eyes, and shedding tears as she shifted from most popular to best friend.

Glinda couldn't be a best friend without her counterpart, Elphaba, played by Talia Suskauer. I know I said the crowd was electric waiting for the play to start, but when Elphaba ran onto stage, that electricity was amplified by the amount of times Glinda mispronounced a word (and that's a lot!). Suskauer brilliantly embodied the quirky, intelligent girl who was frequently feared and considered an outcast due to her green skin. Her mannerisms were shy yet assured; her voice was hesitant yet powerful. Elphaba was the hero of the musical, constantly fighting against the pressures of what her peers thought to be cool, their unrealistic expectations of beauty, and society's unwillingness to value anyone who is deemed too different.

The complicated friendship between Glinda and Elphaba was emphasized by the other relationships and responsibilities in their lives. In hopes of ensuring her future as a well-liked and beautiful wife, Glinda tried desperately to secure the affection of the handsome Fiyero, played by Curt Hansen (August 3-15). Hansen extracted many giggles (and a few cringes) from the audience as he found himself in puzzling positions throughout the show. Just like Glinda, Elphaba was concerned with matters outside of their budding friendship. She was consumed by the responsibility of protecting her sister, Nessarose, played by Amanda Fallon Smith, who had a physical disability. She may have been confined to her wheelchair for most of the show, but that did not limit Fallon Smith's ability to deliver a convincing and powerful performance. The relationship between Elphaba and Nessarose was tumultuous but true, causing Elphaba to hurry to Nessarose's side anytime trouble emerged. Both Glinda and Elphaba found themselves catering to these relationships in their lives, indirectly highlighting the importance of their friendship with one another.

Although he might be the most well-known character, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, played by the joyful Cleavant Derricks, was not a main focus of the musical. His voice was pleasing and he was a major part of a surprising plot twist, but his performance wasn't as memorable as some of the others. This can also be said of Madame Morrible, played by Sharon Sachs, with the exception of when she yelled the w-word for the first time, labeling Elphaba as a person to be feared: "This distortion... this repulsion... this... Wicked Witch!" Considering the fact that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Madame Morrible are meant to be supporting characters, Derricks and Sachs played their parts perfectly.

There was one moment in the performance that I still can't stop thinking about. Singing "Defying Gravity," Elphaba ran out of the audience's view. Suddenly she appeared in the air, belting out the lyrics with her beautiful, booming voice. A large cape was stretching from her back all the way to the edges of the stage behind her. Rainbow beams of light illuminated her as she sang. This was the moment. Everyone felt it. We were there together, experiencing this incredible moment as a community.

This performance wasn't just beautiful to watch and hear-it provided an important message. In the early moments of the musical there was a flashback to Elphaba's birth. When she is born with green skin, she is handed to an Animal nurse rather than a human nurse, immediately labeling Elphaba as an outcast based on her appearance. During her school years, her professor, Doctor Dillamond, played by the brilliant Clifton Davis, is a Goat with a great deal of knowledge to share. Despite being incredibly smart and qualified, Doctor Dillamond found "ANIMALS SHOULD BE SEEN AND NOT HEARD" savagely written on his chalkboard, reinforcing the idea that Animals should be outcast from their society. In addition to all of the moments of humor and beautiful connections, Wicked urged its audience to prioritize inclusivity and be mindful of how they treat each other's differences. This message was incredibly timely, and hearing it through the voices of the Wicked cast made it all the more powerful.

As a teacher, it was uplifting to hear this message of inclusivity. I plan to take this message with me as I begin my fifth year in the high school classroom. I have seen many Elphabas and Glindas in my classroom over the years, and this year I will make it my goal to help bring them together. Hopefully they will learn to celebrate their differences rather than fear them, and in turn they will find a new friend whom they never thought they could understand.

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.

Details: Music Hall at Fair Park through August 3-September 5. Purchase tickets through the Dallas Summer Musicals website. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Run time: 2 hours and 45 minutes with 1 intermission.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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