Friday, November 20, 2009


Wonderful ‘WICKED’ wows ‘em again at State

How good is the production of ‘WICKED’ which is now appearing at the State Theatre? My 14-year old grandson, known as the Kid Reviewer because I take him along to give the teen/tween view of shows, gave it a 9.5 out of 10 on his “rate the play scale.” Why only a 9.5? He said he’s reserving the 10 for the most unbelievable show he’s ever seen. But, he indicated “’WICKED’ was GREAT!” Why? “It had everything. Great story, outstanding production qualities…sets, costumes, lights, special effects. The music and the performances were awesome.” His advice: “Go see this show! It’s appropriate for kids and their parents.”

‘WICKED,’ an alternative view of the ‘WIZARD OF OZ,’ tells the “true” story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch, and her relationship with Glinda, the Good Witch. It has all the elements of the original story, but packages them in a different way. We find out about how the Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin man came to be. How Dorothy got the red (in this version silver) slippers. And, most importantly, what really happened to Elphaba. (Ah, yes, in a quirky ending, there is a happily-ever after story.)

The music and lyrics, by one of my favorite theatre composers, Stephen Schwartz, includes such beautiful and delightful songs as “Popular,” “I’m Not That Girl,” “Defying Gravity,” “As Long as You’re Mine,” and Alex’s favorite, “For Good.”

The production qualities of this touring show, are outstanding and impressive. There is a dragon hanging over the proscenium arch that has a wingspan the same as a Cessna 172 airplane. They use 200 pounds of dry ice every show for smoke effects and enough power in a single production to supply twelve houses with electricity. There are 175,000 pounds of scenery. This is not a stripped-down touring show, it’s a full-blown Broadway extravaganza.

With the exception of Richard Kline, who seems to be sleep-walking through the role of the Wizard, the cast reaches Broadway levels. Donna Vivino glows gloriously green as Elphaba. She hits the vocal high notes with ease and creates a clear characterization. Chandra Lee Schwartz is properly air-headed as the “popular” Glinda. Richard Blake is excellent as the self-centered Fiyero, who falls in love with Elphaba. BTW…did you know that Adam Lambert, the “American Idol” runner-up (can you believe he didn’t win?) was the understudy for Fiyero in the Los Angeles production of ‘WICKED?’

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: As Alex said, with glee and enthusiasm, “Go see this show!” Grandpa totally agrees!!!!