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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 17, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 29
WICKED casts spell over the Emerald City
Arts & Entertainment
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WICKED casts spell over the Emerald City

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

WICKED
PARAMOUNT THEATRE
Through August


Wicked is the blockbuster musical that has blown away Broadway like a proverbial cyclone. It has enchanted audiences for over a decade playing to sold-out theaters, and continuing to cast its spell again and again. Wicked flew back into Seattle where its house has landed firmly in the Emerald City.

The posters summarize its plot as The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz& before Dorothy dropped in; but the musical is far more than a tale of friendship. When two young, unlikely girls - Galinda is blond and Elphaba is green - meet at Shiz, the school of sorcery, circumstances force them into becoming unwilling roommates. Despite showing an aptitude for spell casting, Elphaba is an outcast due to the color of her skin. Galinda is a complete socialite, shallow and bubbling, oblivious to anything of importance. She is set on not making her roommates path any easier. The opposite girls eventually become best friends. When a handsome prince named Fiyero enrolls at the school, both girls are attracted to him, but it is Galinda that pursues him as her socialite nature demands. The Wizard calls Elphaba to the Emerald City, and she enthusiastically responds. When she discovers the deception behind his facade, Elphaba rebels to expose the truth of the man behind the curtain. The Wizards press declares Elphaba an Enemy of the State, and officially names her, The Wicked Witch of the West. When Elphaba is ambushed, Fiyero rescues her, setting off a course of events leading to their own destruction and the downfall of a corrupt government.

Wicked is more than a re-envisioned telling of The Wizard of Oz. It gives a unique look at the story that was previously told from only one perspective. Wicked is a story about friendships, and how to be open to them in the most unusual places. It shows us that there is always something we dont know about others, and there is something we can learn from them as well. Elphaba learns from Galinda how to let others into her life, as much as Galinda learns, from Elphabas rebellious nature, how to be less shallow and to look at life with a more serious eye. It is a story of Girl Power. Its a story of how we treat people, of how people can change, and that there is always another way to understand any given situation.

Fieyro, played by Ashley Parker Angel, is the handsome man who attracts both women. It is easy to see why he was chosen for the role; hes very handsome with stage presence. His voice is good enough for the role, but doesnt leave an impression with the audience. Kristine Zbornik plays Madame Morrible, the headmistress (and Wizard accomplice) at the school where the two witches meet. Ms. Zbornik does a wonderful performance showing the headmistresss stern behavior and devious undertone. The role of The Wizard is a relatively small role that was played by understudy Keith Bearden on press night. Mr. Bearden brings charm to the snake-oil-salesman of a Wizard, who is secretly politically motivated.

It is without a doubt that Carrie St. Louis (Galinda) and Alyssa Fox (Elphaba) are the two stars of this musical. The character of Galinda, who later changes her name to Glinda, starts off being a shallow socialite, breezing through life on charm and popularity. Ms. St. Louis plays the role perfectly, allowing the audience to embrace the shallowness as well as see the amount of growth the character makes along her own journey. This is definitely a multi-dimensional character and Ms. St. Louis does her full justice. Her voice is light, and she holds her own to counter-balance the other leading lady, Alyssa Fox. Ms. St. Louis gives Galinda an extra edge showing the passion that exists underneath her exterior. Her expressions and body gestures add a certain nuance that endears the role of Galinda that much more to everyone.

Ms. Alyssa Fox gives one of the best Elphaba performances Ive seen yet. The angst and anger of a young girl is fully revealed by her characters gestures. She makes the transition into womanhood beautifully, and the audience is easily in the palm of her hand. Her voice is strong, as is made clear from the first time she belts out The Wizard and I, to the triumphant Defying Gravity finale of Act One. Ms. Fox also uses her vocal instrument to easily handle the more emotional and touching songs, Im Not That Girl, the sensual love-duet with Fiyero, As Long as Youre Mine, and the beautiful anthem of friendship, For Good.

The music is definitely one of the greatest assets of this musical. Stephen Schwartz (Godspell and Pippin) has created a beautiful score that resonates with listeners. The music is contagious while the lyrics definitely are a plot line unto themselves. They promote the musical through the sheer lyrical definition of the characters.

Wicked is definitely a crowd pleasure, and this production is no exception. There isnt a single cast member that doesnt go above and beyond. Nor is there anyone that tries to steal focus. They all act together, as one solid cast, that seem to be enjoying themselves as much as we are watching them. The entire cast seems to have an extra bounce in their steps, maybe because they are literally in the Emerald City.



Wicked gave its first premier on Broadway October 8, 2003. Originally based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, the musical starred Kristen Chenoweth, Idina Menzel and Norbert Leo Butts in the main leads, with Joel Grey as The Wizard. The musical was nominated for ten 2004 Tony Nominations, winning three - including Idina Menzel as Best Actress in a Musical. Despite losing the Best Musical Tony to Avenue Q, Wicked is still running on Broadway.

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