One is blonde and bubbly -- ditzy, some would say -- who is wildly popular and profoundly ambitious. The other is emerald green, an outcast used to being shunned and well-practiced at putting up a strong front. They are opposites. They loathe each other instantly. And they're roommates.
This is the setup of "Wicked," the mega-hit
"Wicked" presents an elaborate set with steampunk flair -- lots of gears and cogs and gizmos. A giant mechanical dragon hangs above the stage. The famous wizard is not presented as a green-faced hologram, but as a giant robotic face with glowing eyes. It is a sight to behold.
As for the performances, there are many to note, but none as impressive as
Harris and Lindsay let their comedy chops show in the back-to-back numbers "Dancing Through Life" -- in which Elphaba and Glinda engage in a comical dance-off, sans music -- and "Popular," in which Glinda attempts a makeover of her new friend. Both numbers are engaging and lively, with "Popular" especially a highlight of Act I.
Elphaba at last gets what she wants -- an opportunity to meet the Wizard (
Act II begins with the Oz propaganda machine in full force. Elphaba is wicked. Glinda is good -- and she's about to be married to Fieyro (
We see plenty of allusions to the famous movie in Act II, and some of the plotlines feed right into that iconic tale. Others, however, are contradictory. No spoilers here, though.
While "Wicked" features a star turn from one witch and an inspiring turn from the other, the show isn't perfect. As has been my frequent complaint at these touring shows, the sound was off on Thursday, and many of the vocals were obscured by the orchestra. A plotline involving Elphaba's true parentage seems slapdash and rather inconsequential. The animal rights plot, a key part of the novel, is given such short shrift that it seems almost better to have left it out completely. Because, really, the central relationship in "Wicked" is the one between Elphaba and Glinda.
And I'm still trying to figure out the point of that dragon.
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