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After almost ten years providing a different glimpse into the history of the wonderful land of OZ, “Wicked” is still delighting and ‘Defying Gravity’ as it continues to enthrall audiences across the country. Making its way back into the OC for a second swift stay at the Segerstrom Center, this wondrous Emerald City tour does not let anyone down.
If you have been hiding in a barn or under a house you should have no reason to not have heard of Gregory Maguire and his retelling, or vast different take of how the story of the wicked witch came to be in OZ. The Munchkin Land’s wife has a little fun while her husband is away that produces the young Elphaba, green skinned and all. Shunned by her father she is sent to school only because he wants her to care for her sister, Nessarose. Shunned at school by everyone because of her skin color, she is “befriended” by Glinda, pronounced GAH-Linda by the way. There complete opposites of ideas, ways of doing things and even the reason they are at school is like oil and water. Then again the see how each other can help one another until a new young suitor enters the school, Fiyero. With Elphaba and Glinda vying for Fiyero there are other foul things happening in OZ that could change life as everyone knows it. With Elphaba learning to control her magical abilities, Glinda trying to be ‘Popular’, Fiyero falling in love and a Wizard with a past, all is about to be exposed and the world of OZ will change.
Joe Mantello directs this magnificent stage book of Winnie Holzman and music of Stephen Schwartz. Along with an exemplary group of artisans for the sets, costumes, dance choreography and effects, “Wicked” is roaring to delight both new and old.
This Emerald City tour will delight all the audiences that come to see it. Especially after having the pleasure to chat with a cast member and seeing an understudy step into the spotlight. The cast assembled for this tour is just simply amazing. Dee Rosciall takes the stage as everyone’s favorite witch, Elphaba. With marvelous vocals and witty stage presence, Dee embodies the character in every way. However proving Mantello has brought together a great cast is the performance by Cassie Okenka who stepped into the bubble to play Glinda. I was quite astounded by how confident a presence, poised performance, stunning depiction and astonishing voice Cassie brought to the stage. It truly is a credit to this entire cast.
The cast was very strong in presence and much love and admiration to the ensemble with their excellent performance. To critique any of the stage performers it would be the portrayal of Fiyero and the Wizard. Both actors strong in their own but had moments of flat feeling, as if they spaced for a moment. I couldn’t completely connect with their characters. Reviewing the show and having what some may feel is small and trivial concerns, as a performer, I would like to know how people view my performance.
From a technical sense it was very smooth presentation with minor issues in some of the stage hands choice of footwear. Why do I say this? Simple, you do not wear white shoes if you may be seen from any point by the audience. A certain stage right lighting tech kept sticking his foot out several times to the point many sitting around me noticed it each time they did so.
You may be wondering, “I’ve already seen the show, why go again?” If you enjoy the music and staging it is always a pleasure to witness the thrill of seeing and hearing your favorite songs in its full glory. Those of you who have not seen the stage production yet have read the books and are a devotee, go and enjoy the performance. I will say, for the latter, suspend your knowledge of the books and enjoy the adaptation that will be presented before your eyes. The enchantment and marvel that is “Wicked” is something all who enjoy the story should encounter.
When reviewing I add my touch of ‘my wisdom’ or life imitating art, imitating life. In this stage production it is hard for me not to connect with the lives of Fiyero and Elphaba in that it is not what they see but who they are that attracts them to one another in mind, body, spirit and love. This is the oldest form of moral teaching that many seem to overlook in life. Many tend to see what’s on the outside to make their choice, many times missing out on amazing opportunities. We are our own individual and when older tend to be set in who we are. Sometimes to the point we don’t care how people see us and are marveled when others profess this love because of who we are and not how others perceive us. When we take the time to look around and open our minds and heart to people you meet and see you never know what lifelong partnership you may start. As the proverbial adage goes, never judge a book by its cover.
See “Wicked” at Segerstrom Center for the Arts February 20, 2013 – March 17, 2013.
Follow my adventures in entertainment in Southern California on Twitter @SCThrillsMarc.