By: Alison Silveira
The highly successful Broadway musical, Wicked has made its return to Toronto at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. The smash hit musical is the winner of three Tony awards, as well as a Grammy award. I have had the pleasure of seeing Wicked three times, and it keeps getting better.
Set in the mythical land of Oz, Wicked tells the back story of Elphaba and her ascent to infamy as the Wicked Witch of the West. It is an exploration of how people can easily be misjudged, misunderstood, and how events can be misconstrued and distorted in the struggle for power.
The emotionally stirring score by Stephen Schwartz is captivating and deeply moving. Melodically rich songs allow for Laurel Harris (Elphaba) and Kara Lindsay (Glinda) to showcase their vocal prowess and range. Lindsay is quite the ham, as the spoiled and selfish student, Glinda who loathes her roommate, Elphaba. The pair soon learn to like each other and begin an unlikely friendship. Harris is a gifted actress who plays the physically demanding role of the spirited female protagonist, Elphaba, with strength and heart. At the climax of the show, where Elphaba discovers she can fly and soars high on the stage, Harris sings 'Defying Gravity' and her rendition gave me goose bumps. Kathy Fitzgerald portrays the professor, Madam Morrible, in a devilishly sly manner and Gene Weygandt is beguilingly likable as The Wonderful Wizad of Oz.
Wayne Cilento's choreography is a pleasure to watch with actors clad in Susan Hilferty's peculiar, otherworldly costumes. Wicked pays homage to the beloved classic, The Wizard of Oz in a clever and comical fashion. Dorothy makes an appearance, as does the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and even the yellow brick road.
I came away with a more nuanced understanding of Elphaba. There are so many more layers to her than the archetypal, villainous character that she is made out to be in The Wizard of Oz. Wicked has cast its spell on Toronto yet again, and I am enchanted by it. Hilarious, yet heartbreaking and touching, Wicked is a classic that will entertain audiences for generations to come.
Starring Laurel Harris, Kara Lindsay, Matt Shingledecker, Kathy Fitzgerald, and Gene Waygandt
Directed by Joe Mantello
Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Book by Winnie Holzman
Wicked plays at the Ed Mirvish Theatre until November 2, 2014.
Photos by Joan Marcus