By Esther Lee–
“Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz” was a visually compelling and musically astounding theatrical experience. The past two weeks from Sept. 12 to Sept. 30, Louisville’s Kentucky Art Center featured the universally beloved musical.
Based on the 1995 Gregory McGuire novel, “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” which was a parallel novel to the L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonder Wizard of Oz” and America’s classic 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz”, the musical retold the family story in a new angle and shed a new perspective on the story of the infamous iconic villian of the wicked witch of the west and her counterpart of the good witch.
As the official Broadway musical poster claimed, “So much happened before Dorothy dropped in,” “Wicked” revealed “the untold story of the Witches of Oz.” The musical followed the smart, outspoken and misunderstood Elphaba, the wicked witch of the west, who was born with green skin and the bubbly, beautiful and popular Glinda, the good witch, and told of their unlikely but unbreakable friendship.
In the gist of things, Elphaba and Glinda went to the same college and were roommates. At first they loathe each other but in a turn of events become friends. Like all relationships, the two’s friendship struggled. Their opposing personalities, perspectives, rivalry of the same love interest and Elphaba’s public fallout ultimately led them to follow separate paths.
Even with the unforgettable plot detailing how Elphaba was unrighteously dubbed the wicked witch, the detailed set design, lighting, memorable cast, orchestra, special effects and of course, music all contributed on how “Wicked” succesfully enchanted the audience.
Chirstine Dwyer was an excellent Elphaba. She was awkward, yet compassionate, terrifying, yet powerful during her performance. During her solo score, “I’m Not That Girl,” Dwyer portrayed the strong but vulnerable Elphaba absolutely perfectly. Also, the last song of Act I, “Defying Gravity,” Dwyer overwhelmed the stage with her outstanding and prevailing voice leaving the audience in awe even during intermission.
Elphaba wouldn’t be where she is without Glinda. Glinda was played by Jeanna de Waal. She portrayed the bubbly Glinda perfectly- down to the last blond hair and especially during her “toss-toss” moments-people who have seen the show know what I’m talking about. Not only was Waal a great fit for the role of Glinda visually, but also vocally. Jeanna de Waal was stunning and peppy during her eccentric solo number, “Popular,” when she was giving Elphaba a needed makeover. Waal was also able to convey Glinda’s genuine concern and care for Elphaba during their duet “For Good.”
Although not exactly in the spotlight, the orchestra playing underneath the special effects and stage should not be ignored. Utilizing every inch of the stage and space of Whitney Hall, all of these brought the story to life and helped the audience focus on the story and characters by becoming part of the ‘wicked’ world.
“Wicked”, the musical, is definitely a must-see. The musical brought out laughter at the comedic moments of Glinda, tears during Elphaba’s heartwrenching scene and smiles at the finale. Joining the collection of Oz classics, the Broadway musical was wonderfully wicked.
Photo courtesy innuendoandoutendo.com