“Wicked” Wows Audiences
“Life’s more painless. For the brainless.”
Okay, so let me start by saying that Thursday night was my first time ever seeing “Wicked.” I know, I will pause for the shock and disbelief which you might be experiencing in reading that sentence. And after Thursday’s performance, at the Altria Theatre for Broadway in Richmond, I am officially joining the camp of those crazed “Wicked” fans you’ve all seen flocking to the show each time it comes around.
I really cannot say enough positive things about this musical and this production.
So what is “Wicked” about? The musical is based on the 1995 novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” by Gregory Maguire which is pretty much a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz.” The book for the musical was written by Winnie Holzman with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz.
It starts with Glinda, played by Gina Beck, telling the Munchkins that the Wicked Witch of the West, whose name is Elphaba, played by Emma Hunton, is dead. As the Munchkin’s rejoice, one asks Glinda whether or not the rumor, that she and Elphaba were friends, is true. The rest of the musical focuses on Glinda telling the story of her and Elphaba’s friendship as they go through school. Eventually, their lives take very divergent turns, culminating with Elphaba’s capture of a very famous pigtailed girl in sparkly shoes.
The plot of “Wicked,” for me, echoes a lot of those teenage drama movies from the 80s and 90s that were so popular. There’s a beautiful popular girl, a heartthrob, a nerd, a sage teacher, a villain and a socially awkward outcast with a complicated home life. And even though the concept is not necessarily a new one, Winnie Holzman’s script is so intelligent and funny that you are able to overlook that.
Highlighted by some of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in a long time, full disclosure: I listened to the soundtrack on repeat at work all day on Friday, “Wicked” is definitely a musical I will never get tired of seeing. And I haven’t felt that way since the first time I saw “Cabaret” in high school.
It was Emma Hunton’s first time in the role of Elphaba and I was, to quote a friend, “blown away by her.” Hunton has one of the most beautiful, strong, clear voices I have ever heard. Her confidence and the way she commands the stage, make her a perfect choice for the role. Gina Beck is absolutely hilarious as Glinda. Beck delivers Glinda’s dry sarcastic lines perfectly. While not as strong vocally as Hunton, she definitely makes up for that with her comedic savvy.
Nick Adams plays the love interest of the ladies, Fiyero, and he is Disney Prince dreamy. Alison Fraser plays eccentric professor Madame Morrible. Whose portrayal is a divine mash up of Effie Trinket from “The Hunger Games” and Professor Mcgonagall of “Harry Potter” fame, but with an evil side. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is played by Tim Kazurinsky, whose Wikipedia page says is known for playing “mousy sheepish characters” and I would definitely say that is accurate for his role as the Wizard.
The massive set and costumes have a very cool steam punk vibe to them; think gears, pocket watches, monocles, lace up boots, petticoats, and corsets. It is a real visual splendor. And of course there are incredible special effects, lighting and choreography that perfectly mesh together to make this show so amazing.
“Wicked” is playing at the Altria Theatre through May 4th.
Visit www.broadwayinrichmond.com for information.
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
“I love coming back to show my family and friends what I left to pursue.”March 6, 2017
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