Wicked : 5 of 5

Although I really didn't know much about Wicked, my parents and I always enjoy Broadway shows, so we went to see it (at the newly remodeled Bass Concert Hall) during their recent visit. Of course, we all knew the plot was about the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz (still one of my favorite movies), but I had no idea how amazing the story would be, which skillfully weaves a background thread in and out of the classic tale, in a clever re-imagining style that's become so popular in recent years. Elphaba, the green-skinned girl who eventually is known as the Wicked Witch, is portrayed as a sympathetic character (even when she gets mean it seems justified to the audience), while Glinda the Good Witch is mostly a stereotypical blonde with a hilarious voice. Just about every Wizard of Oz event and character is somehow explained during the story in clever and surprising ways, and I completely enjoyed figuring everything out like a puzzle! Along with the great plot is some wonderful music, and the performances were incredible. From the moment Elphaba began her first solo, it was obvious she was absolutely fantastic (and actually played the role on Broadway before she began the tour), and the other performers were wonderful as well (even Glinda proved she could drop the silly voice and sing seriously during her touching duet with Elphaba in the second act). The sets were really nice, incorporating lots of detailed lighting and partitions that could be changed instantly, and I was impressed by the huge stone dragon above the stage that moved during moments evil was afoot! The flying monkeys were also cool, especially the initial transformation scene when wings sprout from the creature's back (the monkey performers all did a great job of energetically hopping around, too!). I guess you can say I was spellbound by Wicked, mostly because of the well-crafted extension of The Wizard of Oz, but also because the production was wonderful in every way!