WCVE Public Radio Theatre Critic Joan Tupponce (heard during NPR's Morning Edition) reviews the highly anticipated Wicked which flew into Richmond's Landmark Theater on March 10th.
Touted as a “cultural phenomenon” by Variety, the highly anticipated “Wicked” flew into Richmond’s Landmark Theater on March 10th. When the curtain went up, did the show live up to its hype? You bet it did.
The blockbuster made its debut on Broadway in 2003 and has since brought its magic to audiences across the country. The show tells the back story of Glinda, The Good Witch, and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, long before a tornado whirled Dorothy and Toto into the Land of Oz. Based on The Wizard of Oz one would think the two were enemies. Not true. The girls met at sorcery school. Glinda, called GAlinda with an emphasis on GA in those days, struts into the school in true attention-getting style – think “Legally Blonde” – only to run into Elphaba, who is being constantly taunted and ridiculed because of her emerald colored skin. After the two are paired as roommates, they eventually learn to appreciate each other for who they are and become best friends. Unfortunately, their road to Oz doesn’t turn out as planned. Misunderstandings and human flaws in a not-so-human world test their friendship and their principles. This fun, campy prequel is crammed with tongue-in-cheek nudges to the classic story. Humor ranges from subtle to downright hilarious, especially when Glinda is in her element.
At the heart of this show, is the bond of two friends who learn that the line between good and evil can waiver in everyone. What looks like something evil, may indeed be something good. What looks like a positive, may turn out to be a negative or vice versa. It’s all about believing in yourself and clicking those ruby red heels together.
The show is filled with solid, entertaining performances, especially by Chris Peluso as Fiyero, a seemingly self-centered prince who falls in love with Elphaba, and Marilyn Caskey who plays Madame Morrible, the head of school who teams with the Wizard. However, the stage belongs to Marcie Dodd who plays Elphaba and Natalie Daradich who takes on the role of Glinda. Backed by a stand-out ensemble, these two women raise the word “entertainment” to new heights. It is their stage and they shine on it. Their powerful, gifted voices are amazingly wonderful. They may be witches in the show but they sing like angels. Their renditions of “Defying Gravity” and “For Good” will leave you breathless and wanting for more. Both women are perfectly cast in their roles. Daradich brings a true blond perspective to the ditzy role of Glinda that is as charming as it is comical. Her take on the lighthearted “Popular” is a crowd pleaser. Dodd is downright awe inspiring as the misjudged Elphaba. Her natural talent draws you in from the moment she sets foot on stage. A review of this production wouldn’t be complete without special mention of the highly creative and effective lighting design by Tony nominee Kenneth Posner and the whimsical, eye-catching costumes by Tony winner Susan Hilferty. “Wicked” is a bewitching sensation that will win your heart and hold you in its spell. It is the definition of incredible. Don’t miss out on this show. “Wicked” runs through March 28th at Richmond’s Landmark Theater.
For Joan Tupponce.com this is Joan with One Woman’s View.