Wicked. One of the most famous musicals of all time, the 9th longest running broadway show, and internationally recognized for its story and music. I’ll admit, before I saw it I thought it was overrated. Preceding the classic story “The Wizard of Oz”, Wicked tells the story of how the Wicked Witch of the West came to be. Directed by Joe Mantello and lead by the stunning Jessica Vosk and Ginna Claire Mason, there was only one thing lacking in this production: diversity.
Jessica Vosk absolutely blew the role of Elphaba out of the water (no pun intended). Her comic timing and stubborn characterization connected deeply to viewers throughout the theater, who reacted intensely with whatever situation Vosk’s character went through. Working in tandem with Ginna Claire Mason (Glinda), this dynamic duo’s voices blended flawlessly and the juxtaposition of their characters was a perfect balance, making the chemistry between the two electric. I was especially impressed by Vosk’s vocals; her strikingly clear yet beautifully controlled tone and belt caused my hairs to stand on end multiple times throughout the show. Another shout-out goes to Jeremy Woodard, whose portrayal of Fiyero was as fiery as the character’s name. His smooth lines corresponded with his milky tone and effortless dancing wonderfully, as his torn thoughts shone through his hard exterior in a way that made the audience positively swoon.
The set and tech was equally as beautiful and flawlessly executed. The set consisted of a post-modern look with giant gears outlining whatever fitting back or foreground was relevant to the scene. The flying monkeys soaring through the air were a fan-favorite, and the small lighting details created unanticipated easter eggs throughout the show that were very fun to watch. I especially loved the intense greens of the Emerald City: big, intense, flashing lights on the outside that faded to a small wizard behind the curtain.
As enjoyable as the show was, I found myself disappointed to see no obvious people of color in the cast. I flipped through my Playbill at intermission, surely hoping that I was wrong, but I was incredibly let down when I saw that no people of color were in the original cast, they were only swings and understudies. I was especially upset because this specific show is about overcoming the color of a young woman’s skin, and yet people facing the same legitimate problem in our current political climate weren’t featured as main roles or even ensemble.
Overall, the show blew me away. I completely understand why it’s so popular, and have been listening to the soundtrack non-stop since I had the pleasure of seeing it live. However, despite the incredible quality of the production, I’m disappointed in the company for casting little to no people of color in the original cast, making this a truly “tragically beautiful” show.