Posts tagged: Wicked
I received an e-mail from a reader pointing out that what I called a “a giant dragon looming over the proscenium” in “Wicked” was, in fact, a giant bat.
“Don't you remember the bats in the 'Wizard of Oz?” she asked.
I was ready to kick myself for my poor bat-identfication skills, but I decided to do some research.
You know what? I think it is a dragon, something called the Clock of the Time Dragon, an apparition which comes right out of Gregory Maguire's book.
For one thing, it has a pair of horns. I am clearly not a bat-identification expert, but I dont think bats have horns. They do have bodacious ears, however.
What do you think? Is it a bat, or a dragon?
Let's take a moment to savor an exceptional moment in Spokane theater. Rarely, in my 22 years covering local theater, have I seen so much creative energy, at the same moment, enlivening our cultural scene:
So, if you have any hankering whatsoever to see live actors tell a story on a stage, the time doesn't get much riper.
Here's my unedited review of “Wicked.” It will appear in Saturday morning's print edition, after more editing and refinement:
“Wicked,” Thursday night, INB Performing Arts Center, continues through May 29, tickets available through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com)
The first thing a newcomer to the “Wicked” phenomenon will notice is that this production has a great “eye” — a rich visual style, all gears, cogs, clock-faces and Emerald City glow.
And then, as the story unfolds, you’ll find that “Wicked” also possesses — unlike certain Oz denizens — a heart and brains.
Brains, because this “Wizard of Oz” spin-off has a funny, first-rate script by Winnie Holzman (“My So-Called Life”) that brilliantly distills Gregory Maguire’s novel into its essence. It’s the story of the fraught love-hate relationship between Elphaba and Glinda (the Wicked One and the Good One, respectively). They’re more than just Oz witches; they’re universal archetypes, familiar to everyone over age 8.
Heart, because Holzman and composer Stephen Schwartz (“Godspell,” “Pippin”) make us sympathize deeply with Elphaba – yeah, the Wicked One. The last thing I expected from “Wicked” was to be moved emotionally by the plight of a green-skinned witch on a broom. But I was.
This is all delivered nearly flawlessly by a tremendously talented cast, led by Anne Brummel as Elphaba and Natalie Daradich as Glinda (or Galinda — the two spellings are actually a plot point).
“Wicked” has a rich cast of characters ranging from talking goats to flying monkeys to surprisingly tall Munchkins. There’s a side-plot, lifted from the novel, about animal liberation. There are many, many nods to the great 1939 film, some of them sly, others earnest and some of which will take you by surprise.
Yet the “Wicked” creative team never lost sight of the key arc of the story, which goes like this: Elphaba, the green-skinned outcast, and Glinda, the blonde popular girl, are thrown together at school. They loathe each other. I mean, really loooathe each other. Then, slowly, they learn to understand each other. A deep friendship forms. That friendship is stretched and broken by events. But even in the darkest times, that bond never completely dies.
It’s no coincidence that the most entertaining musical number is “Popular,” in which Glinda tries to do a makeover of Elphaba. Daradich, an expert comic actress, flounces around the stage, tossing her blonde locks, flinging herself petulantly on the bed and cooing adoringly at her own face in the mirror.
Brummel is equally funny and charming as she tries gamely to learn the art of feminine lock-tossing. This is an impressive acting feat, since her character is not naturally funny and charming. Elphaba is brilliant and talented – yet also glum and resentful over the fact that in Oz, as in our own world, happiness is easier to achieve by the shallow and superficial.
Ultimately, Brummel delivers the show’s most emotional moments, the most amazing of which is the first-act closer, “Defying Gravity.” It’s a stirring anthem of empowerment, conveyed through Brummel’s strong, controlled voice and through some astonishing lighting and technical legerdemain. I won’t give it away except to say you’ll be left with a bright and uplifting image at intermission.
The design team deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the success of this show. Even before the show starts, your eyes can feast on the curtain-sized map of Oz and the giant dragon looming over the proscenium. Once the show starts, we get a dizzying array of sets, most of which share a common circular theme. There are many toothed gears, a number of gigantic clock-faces, enormous round windows and immense green-lit arches Emerald City arches.
The costumes owe a debt to the movie, yet they are endlessly imaginative. Think “Harry Potter” crossed with “Alice in Wonderland.”
And finally, this show delivers some true surprises at the end, the kind that will make you ponder what really happened at the end of that 1939 movie. It’s a complete package of comedy, song, creativity and emotion.
No wonder this show will draw somewhere around 40,000 people over its two-week Spokane run. My guess is that the majority of those 40,000 people will file out of the INB Performing Arts Center feeling the way I did – satisfied, happy and yes, even a little bit uplifted.
Just got in from 'Wicked' and I will write a full review for Saturday's print edition. But here's my quick initial reaction:
“Wicked” is a feast or the eyes, with exceptionally creative sets, costumes and lighting. And it works for the heart and the brain, as well. I was affected, sometimes deeply, by the story, about the stormy relationship between Elphaba (“The Wicked”) and Glinda (“The Good”). The acting talent is first-rate.
I approached this musical with some trepidation, since I was not a big fan of the book. Yet “Wicked” does an outstanding job of distilling the novel to it's essence. The musical is clearer, more focused, and altogether more fun.
I'll post a fuller review on Friday morning.
The people at WestCoast Entertainment have a few important reminders for people who have tickets to “Wicked,” which opens a two-week run Wednesday.
“Saturday, May 21 is an exciting day in downtown Spokane with two sold-out performances of WICKED and the annual Spokane Lilac Festival Parade. Please allow extra time to find parking downtown as some congestion is expected.
Spokane Falls Blvd. will be closed at Browne Street. Guests who need to drop off theatre attendees will be allowed access to drive to the front of the INB Performing Arts Center, drop off guests, and will be rerouted to Bernard. If you need this access, please advise the police officer at Spokane Falls Blvd. and Browne that you need brief access for WICKED theatre attendees.”
Here are the “Wicked” performances in Spokane that have the best ticket availability: May 18, 7:30 p.m., May 19, 2 p.m., May 24, 7:30p.m., May 25, 7:30 p.m., and May 29,, 1 p.m..
Many of the other “Wicked” performances are already sold out and many others have only a few tickets left. So if you want to catch “Wicked” at the INB Performing Arts Center (and it appears that 40,000 people will), you might want to start with the above dates.
Go to the Ticketswest site for tickets.
If you can’t afford to pay full price for tickets to “Wicked,” May 18-29 at the INB Performing Arts Center, here’s a way to get your witch fix.
On every performance day, a $25 “Wicked” ticket lottery will he held.
Here’s how it will work. Show up two-and-a-half hours prior to each performance at the INB Performing Arts Center box office. Your name will be placed in a lottery drum. A half-hour later, a limited number of names will be drawn from the drum.
If your name is chosen, you can purchase up to two tickets at $25 apiece. You must be there in person and you must pay cash.
These tickets will be a bargain, since tickets normally sell for $42.50 to $142.50. And these tickets are in the orchestra section, i.e., the main floor.