With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman, the story is one for all ages, with stunning visuals, amazing vocals, vibrant characters, memorable songs, and a story that hits everything from family loyalty and fair treatment of animals, to doing the right thing and finding your heart’s desire.
As asked by a girl in the beginning of the show: “Glinda, why does wickedness happen?”
Glinda (Ginna Claire Mason) responds, “That’s a good question. One that many people find confusifying: Are people born Wicked? Or do they have Wickedness thrust upon them?” And that’s what she struggles with as the story unfolds.
Elphaba (Mary Kate Morrissey) is born green, and is immediately misunderstood and feared. As she jokes early in the show, “I don’t cause commotions, I am one.” Her younger sister Nessarose (Catherine Charlebois) is born NOT green – she is traditionally beautiful, but is confined to a wheelchair, as her legs didn’t form correctly before birth.
Elphaba spends her years caring for Nessarose until they end up together at Shiz University, kind of like the Hogwarts of Oz, if you will. There they meet slightly terrifying headmistress Madame Morrible (Isabel Keating), likeable Munchkin Boq (Robin De Jesús), animal Professor Dr. Dillamond (Harry Bouvy), and Elphaba’s unwilling roommate, the “Popular” Glinda.
Handsome Fiyero arrives, almost knocking Elphaba off her feet… then proceeding to sweep Glinda off of hers.
Although they loathe each other immediately upon meeting, a dance at a party causes Elphaba and Glinda to see each other in a different light. Elphaba becomes Glinda’s project of sorts, and the two begin a friendship that will be “For Good.”
What tears the new friends apart are their reactions to what is happening to all the animals in and around Oz – the animals are losing their ability to speak! And some in the Land would like to see their majestic friends in cages. The higher ups in the government would have people believe that it’s for the good of all humans. Misinformation seems to be everywhere. And only Elphaba seems outraged over the animals losing their rights and their freedoms.
We then meet The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Tom McGowan) and find that he is not as Wonderful as his full title makes him seem. Although he is very charming and seemingly good-natured, it turns out he’s assisting in the repression of the animals, and wants the people to believe in the mis-direction.
“The truth isn’t a thing of fact, or reason. It’s simply what everyone agrees on…” and “Where I come from, we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true. We call it history,” says the Wizard of his falsehoods.
Elphaba is not having it! But who will join her in her fight for the truth? One must see the show for that inspiring answer.
The visually stunning set is crowned with a giant metal dragon affixed above the proscenium, staring down with it’s red, glowing eyes throughout the show. The backdrops of clocks and classrooms, stars and throne rooms are engulfed in hazy lights that transport audience members to another realm. Whimsical costumes and beautiful choreography are a feast for the eyes.
The cast and orchestra are musically incredible, with the leads of Mason and Morrissey killing every note. Mason’s soprano register is amazing, while her spunk mixes sparkle and amusement into the character of Glinda. Morrissey’s belt range is enthralling, and her tenacity makes Elphaba heroic.
The acting is on point, and the direction is seamless. The show is fun, fast-paced, exciting, and heartfelt. There might be some who point out that the musical version of WICKED takes away some of the important nuances of the original books, but this powerhouse of a production stands on its own with its own authority and truth.
Do not miss this enchanting story – and you can decide for yourself who is truly Wicked. WICKED is “Defying Gravity” now through December 3, 2017 at the KeyBank State Theatre at Playhouse Square. Tickets are available online at playhousesquare.org, by phone at 216-241-6000 and in person at the Playhouse Square Ticket Office (1519 Euclid Ave.). Groups of 15 or more, please call Group Services at 216-640-8600. #WickedCLE #BWYinCLE