Wednesday, April 30, 2008
"Wicked" indeed was wicked!
It comes as no surprise why we "Friends of Dorothy" have so embraced this phenomenal musical.
Color, magic, fantasy, love, drama, attitude, animation and flair! Not to mention the theme of misunderstood minorities and those that would oppress them, do what is in your heart rather than what is expected of you, and, of course, the close connection and overlapping story to the iconic Wizard of Oz.
The story was very creative and told with a great mix of dialog and song, and the connections to the 1939 movie's story was very cute. It felt at times like it was something like the Rankin-Bass classic "The Year Without A Santa Claus". If you remember that animated favorite: many of the traditions of Christmas were "explained" in the story of a young Kris Kringle before he became Santa Claus. Same kinda gimmick, used to fun effect here. For instance, the pointed hat that the Wicked Witch wears in the Wizard of Oz...we find out how she got it and why she wears it. That's just one example. There are also a few tongue-in-cheek references to famous scenes or lines in the well-known movie like when at a party there's this exchange between two of the major characters: "What's in the punch?" "Lemons and Peaches and Pears..." "Oh my!"
I can't stop humming "Defying Gravity" and the perky "Popular"...which reminds me to talk a bit about the performance of one individual in particular.
When I got the Playbill and opened it, out dropped 3 inserts announcing cast changes for the evening. 4 roles were being performed by understudies (who happen to be minor cast members). Oh bummer, I thought. Especially when I saw that one of the stars, Katie Rose Clarke (Glinda) was being played by Melissa Bohon. The online resources I had looked at, including the Orlando Sentinel review from just this past weekend hailed Clarke's and Carmen Cusack's (Elpheba) singing and acting abilities. One blog I read even praised the pair as better than the Tony nominated original Glinda and Elpheba, Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel. (Idina Menzel indeed took the Tony for Best Actress in '04). So I was looking forward to seeing both of them. But let me tell you, I can't compare Melissa Bohon to Katie Clarke since I didn't see Katie, but man, can I say...Melissa blew me away! I thought she stole the show and even one upped Carmen Cusack in her acting! And her comic timing and delivery was spot on!
It was indeed a fun evening. Overall a dazzling show!
I have to mention a few little issues I had.
While the first act seemed to flow seamlessly and effortlessly from scene to scene, song to song; the second act...eh, not as good. Act II seemed rushed and the story seemed to be falling over itself. The touched upon issues explored in Act I were not followed up to a satisfactory conclusion to me. The songs were still good, but not as memorable as before the break. Even my girl Melissa seemed less animated...but then the characters were supposedly older now (in the story) and the theme grew a bit more serious.
Also, if you remember, when I went to this theater to see Kathy Griffin, I feared it's size could be an issue. Well, the stage depth was such that it was fine, and, because I paid top dollar, I had good orchestra level seats with a great view of the whole stage and the ability to see the player's facial expressions, details of their costumes, etc. so that was okay. But, the seats! Not favorable for a big guy like me. Thankfully I had women on either side of me so I wasn't too scrunched torso-wise, but my butt! It barely fit in the seat! Thank goodness Orlando is building a new arts center 'cause this one sucks!
Oh, BTW, the title of this post alludes to the constant use of somewhat mangled words, especially words describing wonder or passion.
So, anyway, in summation if you will, if you have the chance kiddies, go see Wicked!
I mean, how often do you have the opportunity to go...somewhere over the rainbow?