After selling out performance after performance over a year ago, Richmonders have another chance to see this Grammy and Tony-award winning musical.
Wicked is a companion story to The Wizard of Oz, told from the perspective of two ambitious, young witches, (and best friends,) the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba and Glinda the Good Witch of the North. The story follows these women as they awaken to the reality of their country: All is not so wonderful in the Land of Oz. Fighting petty classmates, ignorant fellow Ozians, a corrupt government, and even each other, Elphaba and Glinda learn about true friendship and the impact of changing one’s perspective.
Anne Brummel’s Elphaba is “beautifully tragic,” seamlessly navigating through her transition between awkward green teenager to empowered young woman. Brummel brings down the house with show-stopping songs like “Defying Gravity” and “No Good Deed.”
She deftly applies her own style to these particular tunes so that even the most familiar feel as though they’re hearing the songs for the first time.
Tiffany Haas as Glinda delivers a cheerful performance, with skilled comedic timing. While the character is supposed to be exaggerated, with a big personality and a giggle to match, Haas airs on the side of hamming it up. Signature song “Popular” seems more of a caricature, making it harder to take her character seriously.
Vocally, Haas’ brightest moments are when she performs with the full company, especially during the opening number of “No One Mourns the Wicked.” However on this particular evening Haas struggles throughout with her lower register, causing her voice to be virtually lost during the emotional “For Good.”
Don Amendolia puts on a surprisingly strong performance as the Wizard. Previous performances, including those by this same actor, have seemed vocally weak, however in this performance, Amendolia demonstrates mastery over his range, and adds depth and emotion with each line he delivers.
David Nathan Perlow is magnetic in his portrayal of love interest Fiyero, and seems comfortable as he moves from empty headed pretty boy to heroic Captain of the Guard. Most notably, he is able to hold his own against Brummel during “As Long as You’re Mine” a song in which both characters are so passionate and desperately in love, it makes the audience murmur, “Awwww!”
The ensemble is collectively flawless, providing an energetic performance and creating a full, beautiful sound when they raise their voices together in song. Their acrobatic skills are particularly impressive, especially in the case of the flying monkeys. Don Richard is noteworthy in his brief appearance as Governor of Munchkinland, and while he makes periodic appearances with the rest of the company, I would very much like to see more from him as an actor and vocalist.
Wicked is a delight for the eyes, as well as for the ears. The sets are steampunk inspired, a mix of pseudo-Victorian styling with fantastical technology (such as clocks, gears, robots, elaborate machines, etc.). Costumes reflect the same attention to detail. A spunky mix between whimsy and Victorian, Oz fashion is all about the extravagant and superfluous.
Glinda’s wardrobe is sparkly and perfectly feminine, befitting a witch whose main mode of transportation is a bubble. Haas wears these outfits well. Elphaba’s final dress is obviously intricately detailed, with peeks of red and sequins under black lace—a neighbor in the audience commented that they wished they could see it up close.
The show flows beautifully, and the hard work of the cast and crew is obvious. They have created a production of which they should very proud. Wicked proves fun for all ages.
“Wicked” plays the the Landmark Theatre through Oct. 16 as part of Broadway in Richmond. For tickets and showtimes, click here. Photo by Joan Marcus.
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