Friday, January 7, 2011

A Non-Theater-Going Guy's Perspective on 'Wicked'

Posted By on Fri, Jan 7, 2011 at 4:00 PM

wicked_poster.jpg

If you haven't noticed (and based on the year-long hype machine that preceded this week's opening, I'm not sure how you that's possible), Wicked, the Broadway musical telling the story of what happened before the Wizard of Oz begins, is in town.

If you're looking for an review informed by a wide perspective on the world of drama, which considers the show in the context of other productions across town, you'll have to wait for Sherilyn Forrester's review next week. She's really smart.

If your significant other is into big-budget musicals, and you're trying to decide whether its worth feigning illness to get out of going to Centennial Hall between now and the 23rd, I'm your guy.

"Too long; didn't read" summary: It's largely entertaining; the performers are quite good' the second half isn't nearly as good as the first.

I am wildly out of the demographic for the touring production of Wicked: Ut had never occurred to me to see the show before; I hadn't heard any of the music before, to my knowledge; and I'm not sure I've seen The Wizard of Oz all the way through since I was a kid. Still, especially during the first act, there are a lot of entertaining moments, and while the songs often sound like they were written by the guy who wrote the Growing Pains theme, the pace of the plot moves along quickly, and there are clever little bits of humor.

The catch is that "Defying Gravity," the song that ends Act I , is so powerful, and the acting during that section is so powerful, that when intermission began, I was sort of ready to go home. The second half requires you to care more about how the story Wicked connects to the plotline of The Wizard of Oz, and I barely did at all. I just ended up feeling a little weary of the whole thing into the second hour. The second act drags a little bit of plotline over another hour and a half and that's a little tough for someone not really into the medium.

Still, a friend of mine mentioned that Tucson's production of Wicked couldn't possibly match up to the Broadway run or Los Angeles or wherever, but based on my limited knowledge, I can't imagine the performances being any better anywhere. Vicki Noon as the Wicked Witch Elphaba took a little while to start really shining, but was stellar by the end of the show, and Natalie Daradich was effectively adorable as Glinda.

Maybe the sets are a little better when a show has the ability to park on a stage for the long term, but I didn't feel cheated at all by seeing the show in town instead of in a bigger market. I just could have used an abridged version.

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