The biggest problem with "Wicked" is that a week later, you’re still singing the songs in your head. It’s a pretty good problem for a show to have. The tour company of "Wicked" is currently in Dallas, TX, performing at Music Hall at Fair Park to massive audiences.
"Wicked" is the prequel to "The Wizard of Oz." The story centers around Elphaba, the "Wicked" Witch of the West and how she got to be wicked, and green. Her mother had an affair with a traveling salesman who -- spoiler alert! -- turns out to be the Wizard of Oz. He gives her a green potion, which, unintended one presumes, turns the baby, Elphaba, green.
When Elphaba’s mother has a second baby, she dies in childbirth after giving birth to a premature child, Nessarose. Elphaba’s mother chewed cornflower at her husband’s behest in hopes that Nessa would be born with human-hued skin. She is. But she is also confined to a wheelchair. Elphaba blames herself for the tragedies. So does her father.
The two girls go off to school together where they meet Glinda. Loathing ensues. The rest of the story is about the Glinda and Elphaba becoming friends despite being so different, falling in love with the same guy, and trying to save Oz, a place where animals and people are equal until the Wizard decides they shouldn’t be. They begin to lose their ability to talk and the Wizard starts locking them in cages and treating them like, well, animals.
Without spoiling it all, suffice it to say, the audience meets the Tin Man and the Scarecrow and Dorothy’s presence is implied although not seen, other than in shadow. The show is about equality and kindness and being yourself. The script is hilarious. The music is brilliant. And the effects are marvelous with Glinda drifting across the stage in a giant bubble; Elphaba "defying gravity" high above the stage, and monkeys flying all around.
Dee Roscioli plays Elphaba in this current touring production. Surprisingly, she started off a little weak during Thursday night’s performance, lacking the ability to command the stage in the way Elphaba should. Luckily that, along with a funny finger tick that she did too often in the opening of the show, soon dissipated. She finished strong, and the audience appeared to be thrilled.
The role of Glinda was played by Jenn Gambatese, who was a delight from start to finish. Kristin Chenoweth originated the role on Broadway, and those are some seriously enormous shoes to have to step into. But Gambatese does it with aplomb, making the role her own and making Glinda equal parts glitter, giggle, and grounding; the last of which is extremely important, as we need to see her change from vapid to caring, which we certainly do.
Fiyero, played by Curt Hansen, was lacking. He came off as both literally and figuratively too small to fill the role. His singing voice was wavering, and it was hard to envision these two strong female leads being head over heels for him. Fiyero is another character who goes through an incredible transformation in this story and Hansen just didn’t portray the strength and roundness of character the role demands.
The supporting cast was tremendous, making it seem as if there were a great many more of them than there actually were. And the set, as always was magically inventive, subtly changing with dramatic effect. The costumes, again, as always and to be expected, were tremendous, one part Seuss, one part steampunk, and one part classic Oz.
This show is always worth seeing. Even if you could only listen to it or only see it, even if you have to sit in the farthest seat in the top right balcony, even if you’ve seen it again and again and again. "Wicked" is a spectacle not to be missed, because even when a thing or two is not exactly what we have come to expect, the show is still a thrill from beginning to end.
"Wicked" runs through May 5 at the Music Hall at Fair Park, 909 First Avenue in Dallas. For information or tickets, call 214-565-1116 or visit http://www.dallassummermusicals.org/