On August 25th, 1939 the old world experienced a life-changing movie called, The Wizard of Oz. This movie became the “American” movie; everyone knew it, and everyone loved it. There was a creative burst of freshness and a burst of something else that no one else in the entire country had experienced: a color movie. Now we head into the 21st century and some Broadway names started to play some Broadway games, they “peeled back the curtain” behind the famed movie. In October of 2003 the newly formed musical titled Wicked was introduced to theater-goers. The initial reaction was very mediocre; Ben Brantley of the New York Times even said, “I give it a year, that’s all that it will last,” in the documentary Show Business. Mr. Brantley would probably like to swallow those words today.
The musical which is now one of the most widely known musicals in the country is centered on the two witches highlighted in the movie, The Wizard of Oz. The audience learns many things about Glinda the good and Elphaba the misunderstood witch of the west. I think I can speak for everybody when I say, when the show ends not one soul in the audience dislikes Elphaba (The wicked witch of the west). The show also highlights Madame Morrible and Boq the munchkin of munchkin land. Instead of focusing on Dorothy and her journey with the scarecrow, lion and tin man, the show focuses on the friendship that was formed between Glinda and Elphaba before Dorothy came into the picture.
At the performance I attended I saw Jackie Burns as Elphaba and Chandra Lee Schwartz as Glinda. Jackie was previously seen as Elphaba on the San Francisco tour and as Sheila in Hair on Broadway. There was no shortage on singing when it came to Jackie’s abilities. I was absolutely stunned and shocked at how powerful and strong one person could sing. Not only did I enjoy her amazing presence but she really truly emoted feelings that I felt. When Jackie sang the Act I finale, “Defying Gravity”, I was speechless and I had chills. Additionally, Chandra had a quirky and fun personality which shined right through her hot pink frilly dress. Chandra had a sweet voice and a spunky demeanor.
Some more people that stood out for me in this stellar production of the untold story of Oz was Jenny Fellner’s portrayal of Elphaba’s wheel-chaired bound sister Nessarose. She had an animated personality and an outstanding voice. Also, Boq the misunderstood munchkin from munchkin land was portrayed by Etai Benshlomo. The thing that stuck out for me with Etai was his bright and adorable personality which would make sense being that he is a munchkin. Another person you can not leave out is the Oz professor; Dr. Dillamond who is a goat, that lucky goat is Tom Flynn who had a proficient voice.
Additionally, I knew that the performance I had attended was extra special. Before, the curtain had even opened again for curtain calls; the entire audience gave the company a standing-ovation. This was the moment that I honestly got chills on my arms. Also, once Jackie Burns bowed, the entire audience roared as she took her final bow. Those last beats of the curtain call music will stick with me forever.
From the beautiful sets of this show to the three-thousand dollar finale dress worn by Elphaba this fourteen-million dollar emerald musical has everything for everyone. With over 3500 performances under there belt, this certainly isn’t a show to mess with. Additionally, the Tony nominated score does not lack in anything, those sharp, dazzling numbers are sure to strike your fancy. Not only has this show grossed over $650 million dollars in the box office on Broadway but worldwide has grosses close to an estimated $900 million dollars. Also, you can’t forget the record setting 128 nominations worldwide that Wicked has been honored with. All around this show fulfills every Theater Buffs dream and with the current star, Jackie Burns being a star on the lamb, the time to buy tickets to this sold-out musical is now!
Wicked plays at the Gershwin Theatre 8 times a week on 51st Street.