Wicked is known among most theatre goers as one of the most successful and iconic musicals of this century. This spectacle tells the untold tale of the wicked witch of the west, Elphaba, and serves as both prequel and sequel to the classic, American film The Wizard of Oz. However, this musical switches things around and suggests that Elphaba might not be as wicked as she seems.
The most engaging piece of this production was the green girl herself. Jessica Vosk, who played Elphaba, found the perfect balance between staying true to the Elphaba people have grown to love and making this Elphaba unique. One way that she accomplished this was by altering the melody of some of her songs. Many people might be afraid that unnecessary altercations may clash with the audience expectations, but you can rest assured that Vosk smartly chooses when to divert from the original melody and it truly enhances the moments of heightened emotion. Ginna Claire Mason, who played Glinda, was charmingly hilarious. It was impossible not to smile watching her squeal like a piglet over seemingly menial novelties and flounce around in lavish, glittery dresses and high heels. Both captured the essence of their characters beautifully and were the perfect contrast to one another.
Technically, the show was well designed. The stage very strongly resembles a clock, with circular prosceniums containing roman numerals, cogs, gears, and other steam punk themed mechanisms. Most of the backdrops also follow this menacing theme of gears and clock hands. This is the basic structure for the set, but other scenes have bright lights and colorful costumes to counteract this and make the show much more magical. The costumes for this show follow the theme of being quirky and very odd. They are reminiscent of the kinds of clothing worn by the Whos from a Dr. Suess book.
The costumes and set are beautiful, but many of the special effects could use some work. In some of the scenes where Elphaba uses magic, loud bursts of smoke would shoot out of the tables and floor and projections of “magic” would flash across the stage. This would have been top of the line 13 years ago when the musical first came out on Broadway, but now these technical elements distract from the show’s message and date the show. However, it is easy to understand why the special effects have not been altered. People coming to see Wicked have certain expectations. If these expectations are not met, odds are that the audience would be disappointed.
All of the dated technology can be forgiven by the cast’s knockout performance. It is clear that all of the characters, from principal roles to ensemble members, have put incredible thought into their rolls and are not just copying their predecessor. They look comfortable onstage and it is truly magical to watch them expertly practice their craft. Wicked is mind blowing.