Wicked – Learn the Untold Story of the Witches of Oz
This isn’t your typical trip down the “Yellow Brick Road.” Wicked is the smash hit Broadway show and has become almost as popular as the original Wizard of Oz movie.
Wicked is a spellbounding journey and offers show goers an experience to view the Wonderful World of Oz from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West (a.k.a. Elphaba) and Glinda the Good Witch of the South.
I saw the show at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco. The incredible Orpheum was built in 1926 and takes on the look of a 12th century Spanish palace. Over the years, the Orpheum has presented countless, memorable performances and is now an official San Francisco Historical Landmark.
The magical setting of the Orpheum truly enhances the experience of Wicked. The show originally opened at the Curran Theatre in 2003 before moving to Broadway in New York City. While there Wicked won 26 major awards, including a Grammy Award and three Tony Awards.
The smash hit is now back in San Francisco playing an open-ended engagement to sold out audiences at The Orpheum Theatre.
There are not enough words to accurately describe Wicked, as it is superbly performed and is a visually stunning experience.
The show is based on the novel by Gregory Maguire and and book by Winnie Holzman. The amazing musical score and lyrics were written by Stephen Schwartz.
The role of Elphaba, born with her trademark emerald-green skin, was played by Eden Espinosa. Kendra Kassebaum charmed the audience in her role as Glinda the Good. Both women perform the music admirably, hitting their solos and duets with perfection.
The show takes us on an unlikely journey as we are first introduced to Elphaba and Glinda, viewing their respective backgrounds and how they first met, prior to Dorothy arriving in the Land of Oz.
The Orpheum Theatre provided an atmosphere, that was the perfect setting for Oz.
The sets are stunning, colorful and literally came alive. The show is staged seamlessly, including a large red-eyed dragon perched high above the stage to an enormous mechanical wizard head.
There is no doubt about the talent of the entire “Wicked” cast. Both leading women bring not only stunning voices, but portray sincere characters that we quickly come to adore.
Although both women become friends and are following a similar path while going to college, they reach a fork in the road. Elphaba takes a turn toward the dark side, transforming into the Wicked Witch of the West.
Glinda’s character is simply a delight. Kendra Kassebaum is cute, perky and full of high energy. Her quirky moves consist of leg kicks, hair tossing and she has a cute and contagious laugh.
Although Elphaba is likable early on, you can see the changes occur before our eyes as her mood slowly darkens. What seems as insignificant items (broom to jam a door, a cape to keep warm, a top hat as a gift …) presented throughout the show, they all become the foundation of her eventual witch’s role.
Although subtle, it was interesting to see how the main characters (Dorothy, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion ..) of the Wizard of Oz movie were interspersed throughout Act II.
Likely the most memorable scene for most, was at the end of the Act 1. As the song “Defying Gravity” blares out, Elphaba ascends high into the air as the Wicked Witch, while brightly illuminated in a sea of glimmering lights (above).
Wicked is as entertaining as any show around. Elphaba provides raw and emotionally singing, while Glinda shines with her quick wit and golden voice, in addition to a caring side as she tries to help Elphaba.
This musical truly pulls in the audience from the first scene and never lets up. The unlikely paring of “good” versus “bad” plays out before our eyes.
We all knew the classic story’s final ending before we sat down, but now we understand how the two women got there.