BWW Review: WICKED at Times Union Performing Arts Center
Good News! Wicked is back in Jacksonville! The prequel to The Wizard of Oz tells the story of the witches of Oz before Dorothy showed up. Surprise, Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West were friends! This was my fourth time seeing the spectacular show, and it is just as magical as the first time I saw it. During the entire performance, I had the biggest grin on my face out of sheer amazement and wonder.
The leading ladies Elphaba (Talia Suskauer) and Galinda/Glinda (Allison Bailey) were remarkable. They embodied the perfect friendship between two very different people. Suskauer was brilliant as the snarky, but compassionate, Elphaba. Audiences got a kick out of her one liners, such as "Well, we can't all come and go by bubble!" Her voice was also tremendous. I knew when "Defying Gravity" was coming, and I still was left in awe of how amazing the scene is. Suskauer truly gave all of herself to her performance and audiences were enthralled by the Wicked Witch of the West, maybe believing she is not so Wicked after all. Allison Bailey as Glinda was brilliant. I cannot properly review this show without noting her performance in "Popular." Bailey was hysterical and did right by the character in that scene. Audiences truly watched as the self-absorbed, ditzy, blonde girl became a kind and compassionate good witch who truly cared for a girl who was different from everyone else. The two actresses did a perfect job of acting out the show's major theme: just because someone is different does not make them Wicked, you may just need to "look at things a different way."
Something I had never experienced before was a truly comedic performance from the Wizard (Cleavant Derricks). Though, the Wizard is supposed to be the unlikeable character, Derricks left me laughing with his delivery each time. Derricks also had a very capturing voice in "A Sentimental Man" and "Wonderful."
Curt Hansen as Fiyero was great! I found aspects in that character that I had never seen before because of his performance. Hansen as a "brainless" and egotistical character grows so much in a matter of a few scenes. From "Dancing through Life" to "As Long as Your Mine", Hansen turns into a compassionate and strong character, with some crazy twists along the way.
The entire ensemble was magnificent. I cannot express how impressed I was with how smooth all the scene transitions were. One minute I see a bunch of students at Shiz University and the next there are beautiful dancers at the Oz Dust Ballroom, all without missing a single beat.
Audiences of all ages will enjoy Wicked, as they did at the November 21 performance. Their thoughts on the Wicked Witch of the West will be changed "For Good." From seeing the show at 13 to now at 23, it has not lost any of its magic. I'll never be able to say enough about how "Wonderful" this show is. Go see Wicked at the Times Union Center for the Performing Arts now through December 1.