Everyone knows the tale of The Wizard of Oz. Young displaced Dorothy travels through Oz with some colorful companions attempting to find a way home. Wicked, however, tells a slightly different story with the Wicked Witch of the West front and center. Adapted from the novel written by Gregory Maguire, Wicked has spent just over 18 years on Broadway. For almost two decades fans have been dazzled by the spectacle and so recently I went on a trip to find out for myself if is she as truly wicked as the people of Oz say she is. Below is my review of Wicked on Broadway.
[Warning: Spoilers from Wicked on Broadway Below!]
The Story of Wicked on Broadway
The story opens at the conclusion of The Wizard of Oz, with the Munchkins rejoicing at the death of the Wicked Witch. Glinda the Good Witch (Allie Trimm) however is hesitant to celebrate, especially at the loss of her friend. Audiences are quickly transported back through time to the birth and formative years of The Wicked Witch, however at this time she is known as Elphaba (played by Lindsay Pearce). She is a girl loathed by her father due to her sickly green complexion and blamed for her younger sister Nessarose’s (Courtney Iventosch) disability.
Act one explored Elphaba’s time at Shiz University, as she learns how to harness her magic, as well where she begins her unlikely friendship with Galinda. These two titular characters are unlike the versions we know from The Wizard of Oz. Elphaba is a passionate, eager individual, with a mission to save the world. Her drive in the show is to speak out against the cruel treatment of the talking animal citizens of Oz. However, that drive comes with anger that leads to many incredible feats of Broadway magic. Galinda on the other hand is a self-absorbed individual, who goes out of her way to be popular and cruel to those who aren’t.
Part of the excitement of the show is watching these two individuals grow as humans and friends, even when they come head to head with each other. Both the love and conflict build until the closing number of act one, which gave me chills. There is a huge difference between experiencing “Defying Gravity” on YouTube or in your car and then seeing it performed live. Pearce belted out note after note while soaring above the stage, which ended the first act on such a strong high.
Act two continues the story of an adult Elphaba and Glinda (having dropped the first A from her name). Elphaba struggles to right the wrongs of Oz, while Glinda buys into the spectacle and sparkle. The second act was just as strong as the first and felt like a great conclusion to the overall story. This act was more aligned with the original Wizard of Oz story and showed how many of the characters we’ve come to love over the years came to be. Seeing the creation of the Tin Man and Scarecrow was amazing to see, while also pulling at your heartstrings.
Music of Wicked on Broadway
I cannot praise this show enough for its music. Throughout the two-and-a-half-hour performance, there are so many memorable songs. “What is this feeling?”, “No One Mourns the Wicked,” and “Popular” to name a few standouts among some other top-tier performances. However, “Defying Gravity” closing out the first act was the absolute best song of the entire show. Lindsay Pearce put her entire heart and soul into that song, causing me to have tears and goosebumps as she hit her final note.
That isn’t to say that others didn’t have great moments throughout the show. The duet “For Good” between Glinda and Elphaba late in the second act allowed for the audience to experience the heartbreak and impact each of these individuals had on each other. Trimm, the first understudy for Glinda, gave some exceptional performances that truly embodied the heart and soul of the character. If you, like me, love show tunes, you won’t be disappointed with the music and lyrics of Wicked.
Costumes and Set
The power of this show didn’t stop at just the acting and the singing. The costumes and set were more amazing and beautiful than I could have ever imagined. The set had a large mechanical dragon that sat above the top of the stage, looming over the people of Oz. Many of the movable pieces had a steampunk vibe, with large gears and metallic appearance throughout. Even Glinda’s floating bubble was made to look like a large gear, mixing the metal with magic. The costumes of the actors, specifically when in the Emerald City, were larger than life and wacky, capturing the essence of The Wizard Of Oz.
Overall, Wicked was one of the best musicals I have seen. The performances of both Pearce and Trimm were exceptional, with an incredible cast to round them out. Sam Gravitte as Fiyero, the third point of the love triangle with Glinda and Elphaba, also stood out as a powerhouse among the already strong cast of performers. Wicked had something for everyone and was filled with lots of heart, jokes that made me laugh until my seams burst, and caused lots of tears. However not all the tears were sad, but because if anything, this show taught me that no matter how horrible a situation seems, there is always hope. I walked away feeling lighter and that I could take on anything. I thank Wicked for helping me realize that we are all capable of defying gravity.
Ways to improve your experience for Wicked
Something I learned the hard way is that where you sit during a Broadway show can make or break the experience. Prior to my week in New York where I saw ten shows, I was told that the best seats in the house were the first row Mezzanine, which is true if you’re not too tall. As well, seats too far to one side or another and you might miss some of the action on stage. Using a website like Seat Plan is something that is super beneficial to the overall experience. Seat Plan allows you to upload pictures from your seat as well as checking others photos to see what the view is like! I will definitely be using this service in the future!
Wicked is currently running on Broadway. I recommend you go check it out if you have the chance.