What does being ‘good’ truly mean? Wicked, based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, tells the story of how the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda, of The Wizard of Oz fame, came to be. This production visits the Orpheum April 12 - May 14, 2017 and showcases marvels of acting talent and set design, along with telling a thought provoking message.
The performance was memorable because of the cast’s fine character development especially Elphaba (played by Jessica Vosk) and Glinda (Ginna Claire Mason). Vosk makes her role fierce with self-assured stage presence and feisty line delivery. Mason, on the other hand, plays up the bubbly, ‘blonde’ persona through ‘Glindacized’ vocabulary and movement. These two roles call for confidence and control over the characters and decisions these characters make. My only hold up is that the cast, ensemble specifically, seem disengaged at times, usually occurring in large group numbers. It felt like they were running through the motions of the choreography and not committing completely to their characters. However, one exception was the song “What Is This Feeling?” where Elphaba and Glinda are singing about the annoyance of rooming together. By the end of it, Elphaba holds her ground against Glinda and the whole student body. With a minimal set, the song depends on the tension driving a wedge between Glinda’s superficial life and Elphaba’s yearn for acceptance.
Another aspect captivating the audience was the immensely detailed set. The play is very fast moving and part of this is due to the set changes. The frame of the stage is gears, like a clock. This rustic look translates into the dark theme of the show. Though dark, it is disguised by the flawlessness of the Emerald City which was alive with bright green lights, and costumes in complementing shade of green. Elphaba and her challenges clashed with this vivid world of green perfection. This clash was clear after the ball when Elphaba and Glinda are in their room telling each other secrets. Elphaba’s half of the stage is dark and blank while Glinda’s is hot pink and the wall features rows upon rows of shoes. Though this was a small addition on stage for a very short time, it added to building the divide between the two walks of life.
The story, though humorous, tells a much deeper message than what’s on the surface. Similar to anything in life, nothing is one-sided and simply hearing the story doesn’t mean that’s all there is. The underlying message behind the show is the importance of being accepted. Every character, not only Elphaba, yearns for acceptance. This yearning drives people to do uncharacteristic deeds. This message is so important for everyone to hear, young or old (though some parts of the production may be frightening for young viewers.)
In Wicked, the message of the story was brought to life through talented actors embodying their roles within a storybook set. Though at times the casts’ seemed disengaged, they reigned their minds back in enough to deliver the story and bring the true meaning of ‘good’ to the audience.