As Broadway’s third highest grossing musical, and ninth longest running show, there was an incredible amount of expectation at the Orpheum Theater as the audience awaited the opening number of Wicked. Since its premier in 2003, the show has received rave reviews along with three Tony Awards, seven Drama Desk Awards, and a Grammy for Best Musical Album, and by the final curtain call, I understood why. Every aspect of the show seemed to mesh together precisely to create the world of the show seamlessly; this was particularly apparent in the first five minutes of the show when Glinda’s suspended bubble did not make it to it’s rightful place center stage, but the actors and technicians didn’t miss a beat, and, to most of the audience, it simply seemed like an odd staging choice. From set, to costuming, to acting, to lighting, the artists collaborating to make this show happen worked like a well-oiled machine.
One of these artists, Jessica Vosk, had a particularly hard job. As the part of Elphaba is known as a vocally taxing role with its requirement of a strong belt and its expectation of an earth-shattering delivery of “Defying Gravity”, she had a very small margin for failure. But fail she did not. Not only was she an exceptional vocalist--as displayed by her ability to control her belt with immense precision--but she also was able to capture the dichotomy of Elphaba’s fiery yet tender spirit. She is an incredibly complex character, but Vosk’s portrayal brought the audience the empathy needed to understand Elphaba as the writers intended. And yes, her delivery of “Defying Gravity” met all expectations and left the audience buzzing with awe during intermission.
Playing opposite Vosk was Ginna Claire Mason whose character of Glinda is truly opposite. I applaud her ability to maintain Glinda’s peppy, upbeat nature without reducing her to simply a stupid, shallow blonde, a reduction that is easy to do. What I found most compelling about her performance however, was her clear portrayal of Glinda’s character arc. Glinda has a profound personal transformation over the course of the show, and Mason conveyed it beautifully. Her and Vosk make a truly powerful duo onstage.
The only weak link of the show was Fiyero (Jeremy Woodard). Unlike Mason, his arc was confusing and the causation of his sudden shifts in character were unclear which resulted in a much less compelling performance. In addition, his singing ability was not on par with that of his two female counterparts, as he was sometimes pitchy and had less strength to his voice. But thankfully, his weaker performance was overshadowed by the exceptionality of his fellow principals and ensemble members as well as the show’s technical elements, so the show as a whole was not compromised.
All in all, Wicked lives up to its fame and deserves its place in the “must-see” category of musical theater, as it is well on its way to becoming a Broadway classic. Therefore, go to the theater, bring your family and friends of all ages and enjoy the magic of this show. You just might be changed for good.