“Wicked” is one of those productions that is a glorious showcase of all that is wonderful and possible on the stage. Its production values and set design are second to none, it boasts some very strong songs and has universal themes of friendship and staying true to one’s character against all odds.
All these reasons are why the show has remained a hit for over a decade and why it arrives as the perfect holiday treat at the Fox Theatre all the way through Jan. 3.
For the uninitiated, “Wicked” is a clever (probably a little too clever, in reality) re-imagining of “The Wizard of Oz,” told from the perspective of the clearly misunderstood Wicked Witch of the West.
Before she gained such a gnarly reputation, our witch was a simple, social outcast named Elphaba (played on press night by standby Mary Kate Morrissey), who is shunned because of her bright green skin.
Things get shaken up for her when she is sent off to school in the care of her wheelchair-bound sister Nessarose (Megan Masako Haley).
Elphaba is assigned to be roommates with her polar opposite, the perpetually-perky and overtly-blonde Glinda (Amanda Jane Cooper). The two regularly clash as rivals under the wizardly tutelage of Madame Morrible (Wendy Worthington), but slowly a friendship bond is formed and then cemented in the iconic number “Popular.”
Testing those bonds is the arrival of the handsome, carefree prince Fiyero (Jake Boyd), who catches the eye of both of these witchy women.
Events reach a fateful turning point in the Emerald City when Elphaba’s dream of meeting the Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Stuart Zagnit) becomes a reality.
But, all is not as it appears in the Land of Oz and Elphaba makes a crucial decision that leads to her becoming an enemy of the state.
The incredibly high production values and stagecraft of “Wicked” ensure a level of consistency that practically guarantees a great experience every time out.
This is an entertaining show, sprinkled with fun little “Wizard of Oz” references and a slew of songs that are memorable and solid from beginning to end. Plus, you’ll be hard-pressed to name a better Act I closer in Broadway history than “Defying Gravity.”
The cast is solidly dependable. Aside from a bit of uneven acting, Morrissey has such a tremendous voice it is hard to imagine the regular Elphaba being much better. Cooper knows where all of the laughs are in the show and goes after them with gusto, but she also has the chops (and the voice) to nail the more dramatic moment.
“Wicked” is musical theater turned up to 11 and a surefire hit for the whole family and your little dog, too. Don’t miss it.
“Wicked” is now playing at the Fox Theatre through Jan. 3. For tickets, call 314-534-1111 or go to metrotix.com.