Okay, so if you read my previous post, behind the scenes of Wicked, you know that I had the opportunity to see the show. It was a dream come true. I wrote a little piece on my thoughts, and here it is!
My first time was Wicked
It all started with Glee; I must admit I’m a huge fan. Ever since I found out Idina Menzel — Rachel Berry’s mom on the show, and whose name John Travolta majorly screwed up at the 2014 Academy Awards — was the original Wicked Witch of the West in the Broadway show, I became a little obsessed.
I must also admit I have never been to a musical or Broadway show before, unless you count high school musicals, but for the sake of this review, let’s not (as much as I loved my school’s rendition of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat).
I fantasized about the day I would see my first show, and naturally, I wanted it to be Wicked. There will always be a place in my heart for the Land of Oz, and Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz has been Broadway’s highest grossing show for nine years in a row right here in North America.
The musical was written by Winnie Holzman, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, all of which was based on the 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire. If you’ve ever wondered why the Wicked Witch was so darn wicked, well, this musical explains it.
Thursday Aug. 21 was the night. The Centennial Concert Hall was packed with people, many eagerly waiting in line to purchase their new Wicked merchandise. Upon arriving, I was told that on this particular evening, the standby actress, Alyssa Fox, would be playing the lead role of Elphaba (a.k.a. the Wicked Witch of the West).
I took my seat and anxiously waited for the show to begin. A giant metal dragon sat perched overhead, and a curtain with a glowing green map of Oz hung in front of the stage. When the lights dimmed and the curtain went up, I was completely giddy.
The show started off where the classic 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, left off. Glinda hovers above Munchkinland as a Munchkin below cries, “The wicked witch is dead!” This is also when another asks the good witch about Elphaba, and when Glinda recounts their tumultuous past, the show begins.
The two-and-a-half hour show definitely had its star performers and stand-out moments, but one thing I was not expecting was to be constantly laughing out loud. For such a sombre story, characters like Mme. Morrible and Glinda had the audience guffawing — and loudly, might I add — throughout the entirety of the show. Kathy Fitzgerald seemed born to play the role of Mme. Morrible, and Kara Lindsay shone as Glinda.
I was very pleased with Alyssa Fox as Elphaba, and at the end of the first half, when she ascended above the stage belting out “Defying Gravity,” I most definitely shed a tear. Her voice was incredibly powerful, and after watching Menzel perform the same song time and time again on YouTube, I can say that I was certainly not let down.
What did let me down, however, were the male leads. Matt Shingledecker, who plays Fiyero, delivered a not-so-memorable performance, falling to the wayside and being overshadowed by his fellow leading actresses. And although Oz is a traditionally weak character, Gene Weygandt’s performance left me wanting more.
However, all the good the show had to offer definitely outweighed the bad. The massive backdrops and sets rolled in and out seamlessly, the dancing was consistently synchronized and the costumes were impressive. Costume changes seemed almost effortless — although I’m sure they didn’t seem that way for the actors — switching from Munchkins to college kids in no time. The Emerald City citizens were my favourite: extravagant gowns and suits in various shades of green, which were all very Lady Gaga-esque.
Some other highlights included Glinda and Elphaba’s dormitory scene, in which the audience got a good glimpse at Glinda’s quirky personality; the flying monkeys (of course); and near the end, when the two witches sing “For Good.” The duo had such good chemistry; it appeared as though they were actually two best friends up on stage together, which of course made me cry like my aunt does when she’s watching Dancing with the Stars.
The curtain dropped, and just like that the show was over. I was no longer a musical virgin. A few moments passed and the curtain rose for the finale, where every audience member clapped and got out of their seats. The standing ovation was sweet, but not as sweet as seeing the huge smiles strewn across the faces of the cast members.
My first time was everything I had ever imagined it to be: I smiled, I cried and I laughed a whole heck of a lot. If you ever get the chance to see Wicked for real — instead of on YouTube like the old me — I highly recommend you do. Oz speed, my dear.