As I am sure is true of many others, Wicked was what really sparked my love of modern musical theater. As a kid, I had played the West Side Story soundtrack on repeat, but Wicked was unlike anything I had ever heard. I was lucky enough to finally see the show in 2010 after years of obsessing over it. Seeing it again on the most recent run, I was expecting it to be a thoroughly nostalgic experience, which indeed it was. But I also found that now that I’m old enough to see nuances within a show, Wicked delivers a whole new meaning. After viewing the production presented at the Orpheum, I determined this is why the show is a modern classic: it is fun and bubbly, with thoroughly beltable tunes, but when looked at on a deeper level, it is complex and meaningful beyond its accessible surface.
Wicked is a prequel and retelling of the Wizard of Oz, specifically Glinda and Elphaba's journey to becoming Glinda and The Wicked Witch of the West. Starting out from their time in college as roommates to the end of the classic Oz story we all know and love, the story incorporates messages of animal rights and other social issues, many of which stem from Elphaba’s experience living in the world with green skin. These themes are so multifaceted that everyone seems to come out of it with a different message, making the show extremely adaptable to all audiences.
I can only imagine that touring in this show nationally is a dream job for so many, so there was undoubtedly no shortage of talent for the roles of Elphaba and Glinda. Luckily, the casting directors chose Jessica Vost and Ginna Claire Mason, respectively. Jessica Vost brings powerhouse vocals paired with the perfect amount of quirkiness to the role of Elphaba, while Ginna Claire Mason brought a more operatic vocal range to Glinda. The contrast of the pair’s voices shined in numbers such as For Good, the two's final goodbye that is as pure and beautiful as it is heartbreaking.
As you’d expect from a long-touring show, the creative team has the set down. Gears and other clockwork elements add to a steampunk feel throughout the show and incorporates the ongoing theme of time. Eugene Lee, the set designer, balances the practicalities of stagecraft while still being able to create a thoroughly whimsical set. Costume designer Susan Hilferty tells a story with her choices, illustrating Elphaba’s development from shy schoolgirl to a wicked witch, and coming up with gorgeous gowns along the way.
Wicked truly has something for everyone: for a younger crowd, it has bubbly characters, colorful sets, and plenty of whimsy. While everyone else can undoubtedly enjoy these, the show has plenty of thought provoking themes for those who choose to look deeper. All of this, paired with music ranging from funny to inspirational, creates a show that will hold up for years to come, generation after generation.