(photo by Joan Marcus)
In every theater fan’s heart there is a place for Wicked. Whether you love it or loathe it, the story before Dorthy dropped into Oz is as entertaining as the story after. For this theater fan it has been about 12 years since my last trip to the Emerald City and this journey brought new discoveries and brought back old memories.
The hit Broadway show opened last night in Philly at the Academy of Music as part of it’s North American tour. If you don’t know what the show is about, it follows Elphaba (Jessica Vosk), a misunderstood, green girl and asks the question, “are people born wicked, or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?”
Throughout her journey she meets Glinda (Ginna Claire Mason), the bubbly, popular girl and Fiyero (Jeremy Woodard), the dashing prince. It takes you on her journey of being a promising young sorceress to the Wicked Witch of the West.
What struck me the most about seeing it this time was the humor in the show. I knew there was a funny line here or there that poked at The Wizard of Oz, but the book has so many comedic moments and characters that it is just a joy to watch. Watching the musical now, I get the message that the truth isn’t always what it appears to be and you can’t believe everything you hear.
The musical has memorable songs like, “Popular”, “The Wizard and I”, and, of course, “Defying Gravity”. You can’t help but leave the theater singing the songs or wanting to belt them out in your car on the way home.
For the show to work, you need a strong cast and this cast doesn’t disappoint. Vosk’s voice is powerful and her singing reminds you of the original Elphaba, Idina Menzel. Mason lights up the stage as the vivacious Glinda the Good. Her dim-wit will leave you rolling from laughter and shaking your head at her, pardon the phrase, green look on the world. Other stand outs include Tony nominee Robin de Jesús as the munchkin Boq who gets stuck with Elphaba’s sister Nessarose (Jenny Florkowski).
Though many critics of the original believed that Wicked followed too many of the Broadway rules, it has proven it self to become one of the most popular shows around, and despite not winning the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2003 (that went to Avenue Q), the show’s message and catchy songs prove that the rules are rules for a reason and the green girl isn’t going away soon.
You can catch this wicked cast now through August 27 at the Academy of Music. Don’t forget your broom!