BWW Reviews: WICKED Casts Spell Over Des Moines

By: Nov. 08, 2013
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The musical that flew back to Des Moines last week needs no introduction. Wicked, The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz, cast its spell on Des Moines in two prior engagements and this time around new spectators and Wicked veterans alike will be flocking to see the gravity defying musical. Wicked is now a ten year Broadway veteran, and with a timeless story, excellent production value and top talent, Wicked will no doubt continue to thrill audiences for years to come.

Wicked takes the classic fable of The Wizard of Oz and turns it on its head by focusing on the unlikely friendship between Glinda, the Good Witch, and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. When the two meet at school, there is instant hatred between popular Glinda and loner Elphaba. But when the two are forced to interact they learn that perhaps they have more in common than they thought.

Wicked endures because the story it tells is timeless and filled with relatable themes. Set in the fantasy world of Oz, Wicked is not bound by conventional time. Again and again, audiences are transported to the magical, green world of Oz and the story never becomes dated because it is not of our world. Oz is a land where animals talk, there are thirteen hours on the time dragon clock, and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz presides over a seemingly perfect society. Themes such as the importance of friendship, seeking personal identity and the battle of good versus evil are woven throughout the show. And while the themes are familiar, when told against the Ozian setting they are as fresh as ever.

Wicked's production value is second to none. From the costumes to the lighting and set design, Wicked is an unbelievable spectacle to behold. The Ozian culture is reflected first and foremost in the costumes. They are asymmetrical and angular. Hemlines are off kilter, hats are unusual shapes, fascinators are elaborate and shoes are rarely just one color. Many times, the costumes pop of the stage with vivid color. During the scenes that take place in the Emerald City, each costume is rich with bright greens and hints of yellow, orange and gold. Assisting in bringing the world of Oz to life is the lighting and set design. The lighting underscores the tone of each scene. During "The Wizard and I" the sky transforms from a muted purple to a brilliant green right at the moment when Elphaba declares her intentions and bursts forth with newfound confidence. Gears and cogs are intertwined throughout the set and give the whole show a sense of movement. It is as if the advancement of the plot is expressed every time the gears begin to turn.

Of course, even with a captivating story and fantastic visual appeal, if the performers did not convincingly convey the drama, humor, and heart of the show, Wicked would not make it off the ground. Wicked does not suffer such a fate because the current touring cast is superb. The show relies heavily on the performance of the actors who portray the leading witches and both do the show justice. Jennifer DiNoia has extensive Wicked experience and it shows. Her Elphaba is down to earth and determined. The show is well served by her vocal talent. Her high-flying riffs in the showstopper "Defying Gravity" brought down the house before she had even finished the final triumphant note. As Glinda, Elphaba's bubbly counterpart, Hayley Podschun displays excellent comedic timing, and clearly relishes the opportunity to get the audience laughing. The ensemble performers are excellent as well, making the dancing look easy and the singing sound flawless. Gliding across the stage, the ensemble truly brings the world of Wicked to life.

Wicked is the rare show that successfully combines spectacle and heart. Whether you have seen it or not, take a trip to Oz this week. Wicked continues its' Des Moines run through November 10th. For ticket information visit Des Moines Performing Arts.


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