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‘Wicked’ delivers a magical musical masterpiece

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Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz” opened in Pittsburgh this week to packed houses and eager fans. Those who miss the show throughout the nearly month-long run should be green with envy for this could be one of the best renditions yet.

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Led by a powerhouse combination of Alison Luff (Elphaba/The Wicked Witch) and Jenn Gambatese (Glinda), “Wicked” delivered a spellbinding performance of drama and humor that left audiences in awe. From the moment she took the stage, Luff delivered one of the most powerful vocal performances of Elphaba I’ve ever seen delivering a flawless performance even despite a medical emergency in the first act which halted the performance for a few moments.

Of course, Luff wasn’t the only star of the night. Gambatese as Glinda was quite the treat by portraying a ditzy-version of the bubbly witch. It was like watching Elle Woods (“Legally Blonde”) with a wand. Together, this dynamite duo evoked emotion with every turn and many laughs. In fact, this production of “Wicked” may be one of the most hilarious versions I’ve ever seen. Elphaba and Glinda get jabs in at every turn making for a great mix of drama and laughter.

“Wicked” begins before Dorothy’s arrival in Oz and continues through to her demise. The story begins before Elphaba was born when her mother (the Munchkinland Governor’s wife) had an affair with a mystery man who held a bottle of green elixir – ultimately the reason for Elphaba’s green completion. As a result, her green skin makes her the subject of ridicule and bullying.

Flash forward to her older years, Elphaba and her disabled sister, Nessarose, enter school at Shiz where Elphaba’s powers are revealed when she grows angry over a rooming mix-up. However, she discovers her powers were not a curse, but more a blessing when the headmistress opts to take her as her only pupil for her sorcery seminar. Much to the shock of Glinda, who dreamed of studying with the headmistress, Glinda and Elphaba end up rooming together – both unhappy with the situation. Of course there’s a little romance mixed in with the story when the two women fall for the same man – but who will ultimately win his heart in the end?

“Wicked” runs through February 9th at the Benedum Center with performances Tuesday through Sunday. Tickets start at just $39 and are available at the Box Office at Theater Square, www.trustarts.org or by calling (412) 456-4800. Groups of 20 or more may also purchase tickets in advance by calling (412) 471-6930.

Feeling lucky? The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is offering a nightly lottery for day-of orchestra seats for only $25. People who wish to participate in the lottery must stop at the box office approximately two and one-half hours before each performance to enter. Participants will have their names placed in a lottery drum to be drawn 30 minutes later. The lottery is available only in-person at the box office with a limit of two tickets per person. Lottery participants must have a valid photo idea when submitting their entry form and, if chosen, when purchasing tickets.

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