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BWW Reviews: WICKED at the Capitol Theatre is as Crowd-Pleasing as Ever

BWW Reviews: WICKED at the Capitol Theatre is as Crowd-Pleasing as Ever

The first national tour of Wicked is back at the Capitol Theatre, and it is as crowd-pleasing as ever. Tickets are still available for every performance of the show in Salt Lake City, so whether you have never heard of it or have seen it many times before, you should jump on the opportunity to see it now.

The uninitiated may wonder what it is about the worldwide smash hit musical Wicked that is so appealing to men, women, and children alike. What is it about a prequel to THE WIZARD OF OZ that inspires so much passion, even in Utahns who may not be regular theatregoers?

The creators of the musical have taken a familiar, beloved story and added a number of twists and turns in its retelling that alternately amuse and stun the audience with their audacity and originality. But more importantly, they have created characters that everyone in the audience can relate to, giving them experiences that imitate real life with all its struggles. The creators have liberally added equal parts light and dark to their palette, layering the experience of watching the show with universal emotional resonance. It is the same kind of expert blending of fantasy and humanity that have made Stephen Sondheim's musical INTO THE WOODS a perennial favorite with critics and audiences and ABC's television series ONCE UPON A TIME such a success.

Add to that an inspired score, eye-popping visuals, and first-class performances, and you have an experience you'll never forget.

Wicked (book by Winnie Holzman, music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz) is based on a novel by Gregory Maguire that relates the tale of the intertwined lives of the Wicked Witch of the West (here named Elphaba) and Glinda the Good.

Every performer who plays the now-iconic roles of Elphaba and Glinda brings her own individual strengths to her portrayal, providing insight to different aspects of the character. This tour's current leading ladies are no different.

Emma Hunton's Elphaba showcases a teenager who is socially and physical awkward. She is any number of students walking the halls of junior highs and high schools, wanting desperately to fit in but simply not knowing how to do it. Vestiges of this awkwardness remain in the second act, adding a poignancy to the maturation that as been prematurely forced into the girl's life. Emma Hunton's singing voice has the same reedy quality as original Elphaba Idina Menzel's, and she provides powerful and satisfying renditions of the well-known songs.

Gina Beck's Glinda wears her heart on her sleeve, allowing the audience to watch it break again and again through the course of the story. We see a young woman coming to her own in the world, learning that life doesn't always turn out the way you planned and that sacrifice is sometimes more important than success. Gina Beck's singing voice blends wonderfully with her co-star's. She is a true soprano, and her high notes are achingly beautiful.

The biggest diva of the cast is yet another witch--schoolmistress Madame Morrible, as played by Alison Fraser. The actress has two Tony nominations (for playing Martha in the original cast of THE SECRET GARDEN and performing opposite Scott Bakula in ROMANCE/ROMANCE), and this is abundantly clear in her genius depiction of the character. She commands the stage every time she is on it, deftly mixing wry humor with underlying malevolent intent.

Another standout is Jesse JP Johnson as classmate Boq. Rather than playing him as a geeky misfit, his Boq is just an average guy who desperately wants to be noticed by a girl. This is a refreshing spin on the often one-note character.

Also providing great performances are Broadway personality Nick Adams as Fiyero and former Saturday Night Live cast member Tim Kazurinsky as the Wizard.

Of interest, the tight ensemble includes two memorable alumni of BYU's Young Ambassadors: Shayla Osborn Beck and Nikki Bohne, who also understudy Elphaba and Glinda, respectively.

Wicked will play at the Capitol Theatre through August 24, 2014. For tickets, call ArtTix at 801-355-ARTS (2787) or visit www.arttix.org.

A day-of-performance drawing for a limited number of orchestra seats will be held for Wicked. Two and one-half hours prior to each performance, people who present themselves at the Capitol Theatre box office will have their names placed in a drawing drum; thirty minutes later, names will be drawn for a limited number of orchestra seats at $25 each, cash only. This drawing is available only in-person at the box office, with a limit of two tickets per person. Drawing participants must have a valid photo ID when submitting their entry form and, if chosen, when purchasing tickets.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, L-R Gina Beck and Emma Hunton

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From This Author Tyler Hinton

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