A Celebration of All Things Cultural, Artistic, and Entertaining in Madison
Oct 1, 2010
Good to be Bad
Whenever I see a musical, I hope for a few things: music that’s powerful and beautiful, a story that’s engaging and moving, performers who provoke and inspire. Wicked, the touring musical at Overture Center through October 10, more than lives up to these wishes.
Based on the book of the same name by Gregory Maguire, Wicked tells the pre-story to The Wizard of Oz. It begins with Elphaba, a girl born green, and follows as she goes away to school and meets Glinda, a popular blonde who becomes her unlikely friend.
As Elphaba, Vicki Noon aptly portrays the frustration of looking unlike and, more significantly, thinking differently than her peers. Her tremendous voice is something to look forward to throughout the performance. Meanwhile, Lesley McKinnell (filling in for Natalie Daradich in the performance I saw) is over-the-top, clueless, funny and charming as Glinda; she is truly a highlight.
It’s refreshing to have a play focus on the intimate and complex relationship between friends rather than romantic partnerships. But romance is a part of Wicked. A young man named Fiyero creates a love triangle among Glinda, Elphaba and himself. While not the primary focus of the musical, the chemistry between Fiyero and his love interests could be played up more.
Everyone who sees Wicked probably has a good grasp of The Wizard of Oz, so it’s fun to see the roles of good and evil turned around and twists added to the story. It’s simultaneously clever and subtle the way characters, not just the Wicked Witch but also the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and others, come to be. Through the music and storytelling, Wicked is just as enjoyable—and probably more so—as The Wizard of Oz. The characters of this story become relevant and relatable to audiences today.
And for those of you who share a common Oz fear: Yes, the flying monkeys are just as creepy on stage as in the film.
Wicked runs through October 10 at Overture Center. For more information, visit overturecenter.com.
Photos courtesy of Overture Center.