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"Wicked" Entertains at the Gershwin Theatre

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(Wicked Website)

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Book by Winnie Holzman
(based on the novel by Gregory Maguire)

Mandy Gonzalez, Katie Rose Clarke
Andy Karl

Gershwin Theatre
222 West 51st Street

Also Starring:
Alex Brightman, Jenny Fellner,
Timothy Britten Parker,
And an Ensemble of Actors/Singers/Dancers

Directed by Joe Mantello
Settings: Eugene Lee
Projections: Elaine J. McCarthy
Costume Design: Susan Hilferty
Lighting Design: Kenneth Posner
Sound Design: Tony Meola
Wig & Hair Design: Tom Watson
Press: The Hartman Group
Production Supervisor: Thom Widmann
Technical Supervisor: Jake Bell
Music Arrangements; Alex Lacamoire
& Stephen Oremus
Assoc. Music Supervisor: Dominick Amendum
Dance Arrangements: James Lynn Abbott
Music Coordinator: Michael Keller
Assoc. Set Designer: Edward Pierce
Special Effects: Chic Silber
Assoc. Choreographer: Corinne McFadden Herrera
Assoc. Director: Lisa Leguillou
Casting: Telsey + Company
Production Stage Manager: Marybeth Abel
General Management: 321 Theatrical Management
Executive Producers: Marcia Goldberg & Nina Essman
Orchestrations: William David Brohn
Music Supervisor: Stephen Oremus
Musical Staging by Wayne Cilento

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 11, 2010

There’s no way to see Wicked, the expansive and eerie musical at the Gershwin Theatre, without bringing at least one six year-old, which is what I did. My niece, Camille, loved the show, although I can’t say it was anything I’d see again. But, again, to see a child’s eyes filled with such wonder and attention was worth the afternoon’s experience. We all know of L. Frank Baum’s “Oz” stories, and who hasn’t see Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz”. Yet, the freshness and color of the 1939 Metro-Goldwin-Mayer film was tucked in my memory, as today’s dark, dynamic, flying-monkey-and-dragon production unfolded with Tony Meola’s wraparound sound that could reach across Broadway. Set Designer, Eugene Lee’s, dragon has eyes that light up, and Director, Joe Mantello, sends characters mid-air on brooms and in bubbles.

Katie Rose Clarke plays Glinda (the “good witch”), the role originated by Kristin Chenoweth. Mandy Gonzalez plays Elphaba (the “bad witch”), the role originated by Idina Menzel. This show has been on Broadway for almost seven years, but it took a six year-old to get me here, and I was truly entertained. There’s a fragmented story about Elphaba’s conflicted relationship with her father, her defiant behavior, her disabled, kind sister, and her room-mate days with the self-absorbed Glinda, who, ironically seems showered with gold. Elphaba was born with green skin, as this is a tale of the Emerald City. Rondi Reed, as Madame Morrible, who teaches witchcraft in cooking-lesson style, is all personality and carries her role with supremacy. P.J. Benjamin, as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, exudes surprising charm in his iconic role.

Nessarose, Elphaba’s disabled sister, who rides the stage in a swirling wheelchair, has always been the apple of her father’s eye, and thus a thorn in Elphaba’s space. But, Elphaba’s progressive relationships with Nessarose and Glinda give this fantasy some soul. The plot is complex, but Joe Mantello keeps the action steady and simplified, so even the youngest in attendance are fully engaged. Ms. Clarke accommodates to Glinda’s early annoying manner, then seamlessly adds nuanced sentiment. Ms. Gonzalez, likewise, reshapes her persona from angry, impassioned, to accepting, still impassioned. A synopsized show, just about Elphaba, even a solo cabaret, would be so enticing. Andy Carl, as Fiyero, the Prince who loves witches, but becomes the Scarecrow to survive, was suitably charming, as Princes are, and Michael DeVries and Kristen Leigh Gorski as Elphaba and Nessarose’s Father and Mother, personify cartoonish angst.

Other characters, in this many character-filled show, are Boq (Alex Brightman), a Munchkin enraptured by Glinda, and Doctor Dillamond, with a goat-like physique, who teaches at Madame Morrible’s Shiz University, the go-to school for all things sorcery. The Doctor experiments on animals in mysterious ways, and his disappearance is just as mysterious. The onstage and flying animals, students, and denizens of the Emerald City, plus palace guards and citizens of Oz, keep the large ensemble busy through this story-book extravaganza. Musical numbers, by Stephen Schwartz, with staging by Wayne Cilento, include “No One Mourns the Wicked” and “March of the Witch Hunters”. You won’t leave humming, but if there’s a six year-old, she’ll be dancing.

Camille Outside the Broadway Show
"Wicked" in Her New Wicked Witch Hat
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

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