“Wicked”, adapted for the stage by Winnie Holzman, has been breaking records all over the world since it landed on Broadway in October 2003 and this stop by the touring company must have set a record for the number of times a touring company has come to South Florida.
The story is basically good versus evil that, using the characters from “The Wizard Of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, tells how the wicked witch of the west and the good witch of the north developed into the roles they would play. Most of it happens before Dorothy arrives in Oz but you will get a brief look at her, the tin man, the scarecrow and the tail, yes the tail, of the cowardly lion, as it is brought up to the current day.
Along the way there are the many angles of romance with Nessarose (Zarah Mahler) in love with Boq (Michael Wartella) who is in love with Glinda (Jeanna De Waal) who is in love with Fiyero (Billy Harrigan Tighe) who is in love with Elphaba (Christine Dwyer) but with all that the main story is about the friendship between Glinda and Elphaba and how they affect each others lives from the first day they meet. Also the wizard of Oz (Paul Kreppel) and Madame Morrible (Gina Ferrall) play major roles to move the story along. One of the themes of “Wicked” is being ‘different’ and how people treat those who are, such as Elphaba, who is green.
The music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz are a very big part of the success of the show and goes from the Paul Kreppel vaudeville turn in “Wonderful” to Billy Harrigan Wartella showing smooth moves as he and the ensemble do a ‘Broadway’ song and dance to “Dancing Through Life” but it is 4 songs that make and break the show which are “Popular” (De Waal), “As Long As You Are Mine” (Dwyer and Tighe) “For Good” (De Waal and Dwyer) and the power ballad “Defying Gravity” (Dwyer).
Wartella is a much better dancer than singer and De Waal doesn’t quite get all the humor out of her version of “Popular”, or the role of Glinda, but Dwyer dominates every time she is on stage and especially when singing. Her voice reaches the last row in the balcony and she seems to modulate her voice when singing with others, not to overpower anyone.
The orchestra backs the cast of 38 while the musical staging by Wayne Cilento still looks fresh as does the direction by Joe Mantello. The lighting by Kenneth Posner, sets by Eugene Lee and special effects by Chic Silber give the show the spectacle look that brings out ohhs and ahhhs from the audience. The costumes by Susan Hilferty could use a little freshening up such as Madame Morrible’s bustle in the first act.
“Wicked” will be at the Broadway Performing Arts Center until February 17 until going on to Orlando.
1st act 1 hour and 25 minutes Intermission 17 minutes 2nd act 1 hour and 2 minutes.
Strobe lights excessive amount of smoke
Coming February 26 in Miami “Les Miserables” March 5 in Fort Lauderdale “Flashdance”
"SMASH"--THE SECOND SEASON
There is so much that is right and also wrong about “Smash” that you watch it as an approaching train wreck. A good example is having a singer of the caliber of Brian d’Arcy James without letting him sing and then letting him go at the beginning of the second season. They hire Jeremy Jordan and give him a downer of a role, which hopefully will change, but at least they let him sing.
Debra Messing’s husband, child and scarves are gone and she has moved in with Christian Borle. Are we going to have a ‘Tom and Grace’ instead of ‘Will and Grace’? The producers have, thankfully, gotten rid of Mike (Messing’s lover), Dev who was main character Katharine McPhee’s lover and Ellis who was just annoying but we still have Jack Davenport as the director Derek Wills who might be a good director--hard to tell since most of the scenes we have seen are the musical numbers but it is not clear if he is the choreographer also. He definitely is a womanizer and the villain, so far.
Anjelica Huston and Michael Cristofer work very well together and, for a change, in tonight’s episode she didn’t throw a drink in his face. Along with Jeremy Jordan we meet his writing partner played by Andy Mientus, who right now has the better part and certainly an asset to the script. It also looks like we may have lost Borle’s ‘lover’ as he is being shipped out to play in the touring company of “The Book Of Mormon”.
The main problem right now is that Megan Hilty who is dynamic in looks, charisma and a singer who knows how to belt a song is playing second fiddle to Katharine McPhee who blends in too much with the cast and scenery to be a ‘star’. How glorious it would have been to have Hilty sing “On Broadway” with Jennifer Hudson instead of McPhee.
Jennifer Hudson, looking great and singing even better, had two songs to sing, one a duet, and, maybe, a half a dozen lines. This is a perfect example of what is right and wrong about “Smash”. The right part is having Jennifer Hudson while the wrong part is that she is an actress, give her a role to play. Hopefully in the next few episodes they will give her something to work with but even if they don’t it will be worthwhile tuning in just to hear her sing “I Got Love”.
How true a picture “Smash” is of what goes on in the business known as Broadway it doesn’t hurt they bring in a few people like Harvey Fierstein for authenticity--and it would have been fun having him sing a few bars of a song with Hudson or Hilty but that isn’t this show which hovers between camp and realism without making up its mind what it wants to be.
The bottom line? I’ll be watching “Smash” for as long a run it has and hoping for more singing, especially Jordan.