A mystical air is filling the Music Hall in Kansas City this month and the results are Wicked. The Theater League of Kansas City presents an extended run of Wicked, The Untold Stories Of The Witches Of Oz, now through October 27. Wicked is based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, book by Winnie Holzman with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz.
This is not only a tale of the witches, the play delves into the pasts of some of the favorite characters from L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz. Why is the lion so cowardly? How did the scarecrow come to being and why doesn’t the tin man have a heart? These questions and others will be answered in this widely popular musical.
The music, set design, costumes, choreography, lighting and special effects add to the illusion that the audience has been transported to the land of yellow brick roads and munchkins. The Music Hall erupts with applause as Elphaba is raised in the air, the lighting and special effects making it appear as only her head and shoulders are being projected into the sky.
Wicked has more connections to Kansas than just Dorothy, Toto or Oz. Hayley Podschun who stars as Glinda the Good Witch, returns to her hometown of Kansas City and Overland Park. When Elphaba begins to get upset Glinda responds with, “The artichoke is getting steamed.” With perfectly delivered lines like this, Podschun shows her brilliant sense of timing and execution. She brings a quality of whimsy, perkiness and fun to Glinda which never would have been seen in Baum’s original story. She has a marvelous singing voice, at times strong and powerful and other times giddy and exciting.
Jennifer Dinoia co-stars as Elphaba (a role she played on Broadway) the green skinned wicked witch and one time friend of Glinda. Her voice is electrifying, exquisite and beyond compare. The biggest highlight of the first act is when she, along with Glinda, the guards and the citizens of Oz, sing Defying Gravity. There aren’t enough words to describe the glorious sounds that filled the auditorium with every note that was sung.
Fiyero is played by David Nathan Perlow and is the love interest of Glinda and Elphaba (yes at first she was green with envy, then the wicked witch fell in love with him). Perlow has a magnificent voice which is exposed in such songs as Dancing Through Life and As Long As You’re Mine.
Wicked is the first show of the Broadway Series for the Theater League and if it is any indication what the audience can expect it will be a season that should not be missed.