Musical Review – Wicked

Facts: This review is  based on the Broadway musical that played at Centennial Concert Hall in August 2014 in Winnipeg.

Musical Synopsis: Based on the 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire, this musical follows the life, times, inter-relationships, viewpoints, and decisions of Elphaba (later known as the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda (later known as Glinda the Good Witch).  The musical tells us the “unknown story” behind the Wizard of Oz, and allows us into the details of Oz politics, sorcery, relations between different people and also with animals in Oz.  We see that things are not black and white, but that shades of grey must be considered when reviewing people or judging historical events.

Musical Review: This was my third time seeing the Wicked musical, and it seems to get better and better with each viewing!  The show was absolutely flawless from a technical point of view.  The music, the timing, the costumes, and the visual effects were fantastic.  Furthermore, the cast of characters was absolutely fabulous in their portrayals of these dynamic, complex characters.  From Elphaba and Glinda, right down to the Wizard, Madame Morrible, and other characters, the cast had clear chemistry between them, and delivered wonderful performances.  In particular, the singing prowess of the two leads through songs like Defying Gravity and For Good were particularly memorable and received standing ovations.  And of course this is all thanks to a genius author in Gregory Maguire and the music and lyrics from Steven Schwartz, who have provided us an environment of fantasy to enjoy and explore, being entertained with laughter, and being brought to tears.  Topics in the Oz environment definitely relate back to our own world, from race relations and discrimination, to religious views, to persecution of people who have different skills or abilities or viewpoints, to the tension behind power and those who seek it.  There are some differences, particular in the conclusion, between the novel and the musical, but both have their places and work well.  This is a fantastic musical, and worth seeing more than once!

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