Well..It’s Popular Alright
Paint the town in green! Everyone who has at least some idea of theater loves Wicked. And I sit here, feeling like a hipster, wanting not to like it because of its constant touring and overplayed songs, and yet still find myself on the edge of my seat covered in goosebumps during “Defying Gravity”. I sit and gawk as the flying monkeys tumble across the stage and the glitter catches the light perfectly on Glinda’s blue gown. As I lean forward in my seat, all thoughts of the popularity and all wishes to become a “cool” theater goer fly out the window and I mouth along to “Popular” and cry my eyes out during “For Good”. It is popular, but for good reason.
The political atmosphere of Wicked seems incredibly poignant in today's day and age. Certain aspects of the Wizard and other characters are mirror the candidates in this year’s election, and that makes the statement of the show that much clearer to the audience. If you have yet to see Wicked, this political message will likely strike a chord in you, or if you have already seen it the plot may seem that much more relevant. It tricks the audience by tying in a beloved storyline (The Wizard of Oz) and adding a new story that can appeal to those young and old. It utilizes beautiful magic tricks and a gorgeous set (designed by Eugene Lee) to bring the audience members into the world of Oz that many of us have not visited since childhood.
Although at times the sound was quiet or muddled, the belted notes of each song were clear and showed the talent of Jessica Vosk (Elphaba) and Ginna Claire Mason (Glinda). The balance between orchestra and actors could have been adjusted, but as someone who listens to the Broadway Showtunes Station on Pandora quite frequently the words were not too difficult to pick out from my seat in the back of theater. It could be difficult to pick out the words without the background knowledge of the lyrics, however. The ensemble was occasionally lacking in the strength that the main characters carried. They were heavily soprano and although some of the songs tended to lean more on the higher side, the different parts were difficult to pick out. This added into the problems with hearing the words of the songs, although the notes themselves were impressive.
The most impressive part of this show was the costuming. Designed by Susan Hilferty, several of the costumes seemed to glisten as if they were their own character. One of the outfits for the ensemble in the Emerald City had a distinct “old Hollywood” vibe that made me want to be her. Glinda had a blue gown that glittered and sparkled in a way that rivaled Cinderella’s. Midway through the show Elphaba traded in her drab outfits for a fitted black dress that fit her body and glimmered as the spotlight shone on it.
Wicked is playing until May 14. It is a high flying show that will leave audience members understanding exactly what all the hubbub is about.