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BWW Review: WICKED is Decidedly 'Popular' at Broadway Sacramento

Now on Stage Through April 24

BWW Review: WICKED is Decidedly 'Popular' at Broadway Sacramento

It's been almost 19 years since Wicked debuted on Broadway, but you would never know it by the reception Sacramento gave the national tour this week. The show has lost none of its salability and the energy was palpable in the room in anticipation of the show that surpassed Les Miserables to become Broadway's fifth longest-running musical. Based on the 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire, Wicked boasts music by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin) and a book by Winnie Holzman. It has won three Tony Awards, seven Drama Desk awards, and a Grammy Award for the original Broadway cast album.

Admittedly, this was my first time seeing Wicked (a sensitive subject for a theatre-goer). They had me hooked with the flying monkeys before the curtain even opened but, when it did, I was immediately transported to another world. A world of magical steampunk-meets-Beetlejuice-meets Sweeney Todd costumes, wondrous characters, and settings that inspired open-mouthed awe. If I had thought that was enough (I did!), they had much more in store!

For one, Wicked is much more than entertainment. It's a testimony to the power of believing in yourself and a beacon of hope for anyone who has ever felt different. It's also a funny political and social commentary, no matter where you stand on the spectrum; however, it's not heavy. Issues are mitigated by self-deprecating humor and physical comedy.

Secondly, after listening to the original Broadway cast album for years, I was a little curious how a different Elphaba and Glinda would sound. To my delight, my worries were completely unfounded. Jennafer Newberry's shallow and airheaded Glinda (the Ga is silent) was a perfect complement to Lissa deGuzman's dry and witty Elphaba. Newberry's operatic soprano shone in favorites like "No One Mourns the Wicked" and "Popular." DeGuzman's powerhouse vocals are unmatched in this show, with a deafening crowd showing their appreciation for her performance (and flying skills) in what is arguably the most well-known number and worth the price of admission alone, "Defying Gravity."

I'll tell you a secret-I went back to see it a second time. No, it wasn't just to see the witches' hunky love interest, Fiyero (Stockton native Jordan Litz). I had to soak it all in again-my favorite headmistress, the RuPaul Drag Race-ish Madame Morrible (Lisa Howard), my favorite goat of all time, Doctor Dillamond (Michael Genet), and being reminded that everyone deserves a chance to fly.

Wicked plays at Broadway Sacramento in the SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center through April 24. Tickets may be found by visiting or by calling (916) 557-1999.

Photo credit: Joan Marcus

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