“It’s good to see me, isn’t it?” Glinda the Good asks this loaded question to the crowd upon entering the stage via a magical bubble in the national tour of WICKED. It’s her debut line, and it’s a question pertinent to both the on-stage Ozians, and to the audience at Playhouse Square, who is still under the haze of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the new Omicron COVID variant starts to creep its way into the United States, some patrons are still making their first ventures out to the theater in what seems like forever. So yes, Glinda – it IS good to see you.
WICKED features music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, with book by Winnie Holzman. The original Broadway production has 10 Tony Award nominations, with 3 wins.
Before Dorothy Gale arrives from Kansas, two enemies-turned-friends find themselves in Oz navigating the world of being roommates at Shiz University. Elphaba (who will later become the Wicked Witch of the West) protectively brings her wheelchair-bound (and sparkly-shoed) sister, Nessarose, to the school so they both can study. Classmate Galinda (who becomes known as Glinda the Good Witch) arrives with lots of suitcases and a energetic entitlement complex.
Moving into the story, we learn the reason behind Elphaba’s green color, and watch her navigate the new environment. Socializing at the school is super easy for Galinda but not so much for Elphie. There are unrequited loves, jealous rivalries, and the clash of some very different outlooks on life.
Eventually Elphaba and Galinda make peace, and Galinda gives Elphie a makeover while pulling her into a world of popularity. We see them entertainingly interact with the others around them, including a munchkin named Boq (who is infatuated with Galinda), a handsome Prince named Fiyero (who causes a bit of a love triangle), the university headmistress Madame Morrible (who is not what she seems), and a goat professor named Doctor Dillamond (the only Animal left teaching at the school). And of course let’s not forget the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz!
As they do, things turn dark. When the Animals of the Land begin to lose their voices, events begin happening very quickly. Elphaba takes a stand, Galinda changes her name to Glinda in solidarity with the Animals, and they eventually end up meeting the Wizard of Oz (who has secrets of his own). The storylines of love, loyalty, discrimination, conspiracy, politics, oppression, and the battle between what is “good” and what is “wicked” are prominent and compelling.
The show is packed full of memorable songs performed by a very gifted cast. Talia Suskauer is a dynamic Elphaba, belting her way easily through songs like “The Wizard and I,” “I’m Not That Girl,” and “No Good Deed.” Her Act I finale in “Defying Gravity” is goosebump-inducing. Her acting is sincere, making her relatable and worth cheering for.
Allison Bailey is a bubbly blond Glinda who’s worthy of the attention she commands on the stage. Her rendition of “Popular” is peppy and perfect, and her vocal range is incredible as she hits all of her high notes in the entire score with ease and beauty.
Bailey and Suskauer are wonderful team on stage, as their duets of “What is This Feeling” and “For Good” feature great harmonies, and both pieces demonstrate how their relationship changes as time passes.
The design elements of WICKED are also noteworthy, with Susan Hilferty’s costumes taking the prize for their eye-catching color and detail. Lights, sound, set, and other technical aspects capture the spirit of Oz and the magic that is within.
To sum up: WICKED is worth it. The rich story, striking songs, talented-laden vocals, and top-notch design elements make this production one to see.
WICKED plays the KeyBank State Theatre now through January 2, 2022. Tickets are $59.00 – $199.00 and more information can be found at https://www.playhousesquare.org/events/detail/wicked-2.
DIGITAL TICKET LOTTERY
There’s also a digital lottery for a chance to purchase $30 Lucky Seats to see WICKED. For entry and details, visit luckyseat.com