Shockingly, I've never seen WICKED. I know the soundtrack pretty well and like many of the songs. Defying Gravity and Popular are two of my favorites and are both of these songs are pretty standard musical theatre audition material. I was, needless to say, exceedingly excited to see this show. In fact, I have tickets for next week as well.
In case you have no idea what show I'm talking about (which would be pretty funny as you are reading a theatre blog) here's the basics. WICKED currently on tour at the Durham Performing Arts Center is a lavish multi-award winning Broadway musical based on the book by Gregory Maguire. The book, which is fantastic, is loosely based on the books and characters created by Frank Baum. The musical's songs and lyrics were written by Stephen Schwarts and the book was written by Winnie Holzman.
First, I was seated in the FIRST ROW. A blessing and a curse. This is not an intimate little show. It's big and loud and needs to be seen with a little bit of distance. That said, beggars cannot be choosers and I actually LOVED sitting up close. It's a bit like looking at an impressionist painting. You need to see it from a distance to fully appreciate the beauty, but you really want to stick your nose right up to the painting and look at that detail. Well let me tell you, I saw some detail. I saw every move, every flourish on every costume, I even saw a bit of the magic happening off stage in the wings. (I could also make out the dancebelt lines in the male leads form-fitting pants, but that another note for another blog!
Before I move on, I have to say that these costumes are incredible. Can you imagine saying to costume designer Susan Hilferty, "OK, so everything needs to at least not clash with witch green and emerald green, but it all needs to be fantastic and beautiful. Oh and it all needs to remind you of the movie without copying the movie. Also, could you make it kind of modern, but fantastical? Cool, thanks!" I mean for real! These costumes are amazing. The entire design is fantastic, but I really thought the costumes, and specifically the colors, were out of this world!
So, the show is fantastic. Yes, it's a bit silly and sentimental, but it's funny and fun! The (HUGE) chorus is wildly talented. The supporting characters are a delight, but the real standouts are Vicki Noon as Elphaba (the Wicked Witch) and Natalie Daradich (Glinda, the Good). These two women are stars and they hold the show together and keep it moving full-steam ahead. The both have wonderful voices and precise comedic timing.
The thing I love the best about the show - aside from the amazing spectacle of the sets and costumes and the cute chorus boys - is how gay it is! Wait, isn't it the spectacal and chorus boys that makes it gay? Well, yes, it helps, but that's not what I mean. I also don't mean the references to the movie, friends of Dorothy or even the tiny Evita reference that apparently only I got (and since I was sitting in the first row the entire cast knew there was at least one gay in the house)! No what I mean is that this show is all about being different and about learning to accept people as they are. It's about falling in love and defying expectations. OK, so maybe the messages could apply to lots of, or any minority, but add in the camp and the boys and, well, you get the picture...
I'm seeing the show again, next time from the balcony. I'm sure to enjoy it, but I fear I might miss seeing the details up close!