BWW Reviews: WICKED Defies Gravity Once Again Now Thru September 14th

Glinda and Elphaba have flown into San Jose to appear in Wicked and have broken box office records at San Jose's Center for the Performing Arts, grossing $1,516,245 during the first week of its three-week engagement. The two witches will be in town (along with a phenomenal cast) through September 14 only so get your tickets now before somebody drops a house on you. Hodges & Hodges are seasoned Wicked audience viewers, but we're here to tell you that this company is spectacular and you're in for a wonderful night of theatre at Broadway San Jose.

We've said it before, but it bears repeating, Broadway San Jose puts on a theatrical event that starts well before the house lights go down. From the greenlit fountain out front to the green cocktails inside there was plenty of Wicked to go around! Big white concession tents are set up by the fountain outside, with edible delights and plentiful libations available there and in multiple locations throughout the venue. The seating is comfortable, the facilities are sparkling and the staff is friendly, helpful and courteous. It's just a wonderful treat all around. But, of course, the show's the thing and this touring company of Wicked is the best we've seen so far!

Wicked is the story of Glinda and Elphaba and their remarkable friendship and odyssey in the land of Oz long before Dorothy drops in. How these two women eventually become Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West will leave you in awe. With a book by Winnie Holzman and music and lyrics by the amazing Stephen Schwartz, Wicked has won over 50 major awards and was declared "The Best Musical of the Decade" by Entertainment Weekly and "A Cultural Phenomenon" by Variety.

Hodges & Hodges (Nick and Linda) were there to enjoy an entire night of all things green at Broadway San Jose's Wicked.

Linda: It was a dazzling night, but let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Wicked comes in with some powerful credentials, having been in performance since 2003 when it first premiered on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre and being a hit from day one. But, as we both know, live theatre makes every performance "the first time" even if a majority of the audience has seen the show before.

Nick: It's always fascinating to me how much a difference an audience can make to a production. The energy in the room was electrifying. The audience was pumped and it made the show just that much more exciting.

Linda: Chandra Lee Schwartz played Glinda, the epitome of the popular blonde girl, while Emmy Raver-Lampman was the feisty green outcast of a girl, Elphaba. Everything depends on these two leads.

Nick: Without a doubt Chandra Lee Schwartz is the greatest Glinda that I have ever seen.

Linda: No kidding! That's a bold statement to make. What about Kristin Chenoweth, who originated the role?

Nick: No set of pipes can compare to Kristin Chenoweth's. We all know that, but Chandra Lee Schwartz was not only an outstanding singer, she was the funniest Glinda EVER! Her rendition of "Popular" had me laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. Seeing Schwartz in action was like having a mix of Kristin Chenoweth's high, clear soprano with Amy Poehler's comedic genius all rolled into one to make the perfect and oh, so popular, Glinda. And she blended talking and singing in her songs so artfully - something that's very hard to do. She was Glinda.

Linda: I couldn't agree more. And equal applause for Emmy Raver-Lampman who absolutely wowed me with her rich and nuanced vocal intonations. Raver-Lampman painted a picture with her voice, creating empathy for her character even when she burst out in anger and angst. What a mix of emotions poor Elphaba goes through. From the pull of family responsibility, to wanting so badly to fit in and then, just when it looks like all her dreams are about to come true, the hefty tug of her ethical values come into play and she finds herself mired in doubt...and then finally conviction. That's when she defies gravity.

Nick: Her character arc was magnificent. The same holds true for Schwartz's Glinda and dashing bad-boy Fiyero, played by the dynamic Nick Adams. Glinda grows up and truly does become good, while Fiyero finally lets his brain lead him in the right direction. Playwright Holzman sure knows how to build a show.

Linda: Stephen Schwartz is the musical genius behind Wicked (and a fleet of other shows). His consummate skill lies in the ability to create a cohesive, overarching story through song, while at the same time fitting each character with a musical styling that speaks volumes about them individually. Glinda's songs are light, airy and self-absorbed while the musical flow of Elphaba's songs resonate at a more serious level. We know how to feel about each character just by the tone and timbre of the music. Of course, the lyrics are a huge part of that, but the music gets you at a deeper level.

Nick: We can't forget about the Wizard, played for laughs by Tim Kazurinsky. He seemed to relish the role and was - WONDERFUL. It's the only word I can use to describe the perfect performance - and in a role that I never really liked, feeling that it was the one weak point in an otherwise stellar round-up of characters . He is so charming and kind sounding and yet so evil. He plays both sides so honestly that you really believe he's a real person instead of an actor on stage. I am - for the first time - in love with this character.

Linda: Alison Fraser as Madame Morrible was a joy to watch. She is a great character actor and really made the part her own. She was funny and endearing at the beginning and very devious at the end.

It all comes together so well in Wicked, doesn't it. Let's talk costumes. Susan Hilferty's imaginative designs are by degrees fun and flirty, outrageously green and gorgeous and, for Elphaba, wickedly black and sequined with elegance.

Nick: I thought Kenneth Posner's lighting worked well with, and were enhanced by Elaine J. McCarthy's projections, especially during the song "Defying Gravity." When Elphaba flies into the air with her broom stick for the ACT I finale, there was a green, blue, turquoise, and purple rainbow haze that emanated from all around our green hero. It was just beautiful; magical really.

Linda: Eugene Lee's set design is a nod to the original novel by Gregory Maguire. There the clock works and a dragon have more significance. Though they're not referred to in the Holzman script, they make magnificent backdrops to the show.

Nick: All in all, Wicked is fabulous and, I hate to overly push the point, but seeing it at Broadway San Jose is the icing on the cake.

Linda: Agreed! No matter how many times you may have seen it, make your way down the yellow brick road and go see Wicked at Broadway San Jose.

August 27-September 14
San Jose Center for the Performing Arts
Broadway San Jose
Book by Winnie Holzman
Music and lyrics by the great and powerful Stephen Schwartz
Directed by Joe Mantello
Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus

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