Nothing short of spectacular describes the opening night of Wicked, the musical the precursor of the famed movie The Wizard of Oz, that features Kansas City native Hayley Podschun as Glinda in the national tour that comes for a limited run at the Music Hall.
Wicked, aptly named– it’s wickedly funny; it’s wickedly entertaining; it’s wickedly reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz; it’s wickedly sung; it’s wickedly acted; and it’s wicked reaction from the audience brought them to their feet as the final fade to black before even the curtain calls began.
Expect the Broadway success, Wicked, Broadway Across America’s current production at the Music Hall, to capture audiences’ attention from the beginning scene through the final curtain call. The action begins, in the first scene as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, descends from her bubble into the land of Oz amidst the Munchkins. From there the story begins to unfold, reverting back to a time when Glinda and Elphaba first met, became roommates, and began their friendship.
Wicked, still playing on Broadway, continues to excite audiences wherever it plays. Kansas City proved no exception to the rule. A capacity crowd thundered their approval for the show’s return to the Music Hall. Definitely a family oriented show, Wicked derives its laughs through nostalgia, sharp, witty dialogue, fully developed characters, some physical comedy, and some cutesy lines that poke fun at the original MGM classic The Wizard of Oz.
Many new characters come to life in Wicked, and audiences in a much fuller picture of both Elphaba and Glinda. As their friendship develops, audiences see what makes each character the way she is. Audiences learn about Elphaba’s past and how she becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. Audiences learn a lot about the driving force behind each of the main characters.
Fabulous singing from the two main characters, Glinda and Elphaba, set the tone for an evening of fantasy entertainment. Equal in character and stage presence, Jennifer DiNoia belts out her dynamic vocal gymnastics with “Defying Gravity,” and received boisterous approval from the audience. The dynamics of her voice drew chills and goose bumps on that particular number.
As for Glinda, Kansas City native Hayley Podschun, from Olathe brought to the stage a giddy, spoiled Glinda, who provides the comic relief with some slapstick physical and spoken comedy. Her signature song, “Popular,” like Elphaba’s signature song elicited thunderous applause and laughter from the audience.
Each actress performed a separate version of “I’m Not that Girl” with different focuses and emotional delivery. And, they combined for one pivotal number, “For Good,” toward the end of Act II.
With two such strong female leads in the show, each sharing top billing, leaves little time for character development of other characters within the show. With this version of Wicked, even the smaller parts showed a depth of acting skills and stage presence from other cast members.
Kathy Fitzgerald portrayed Madame Morrible, the headmistress at the school where the girls met. Even though not on stage much of the show, her character and stage presence always drew the attention and eyes of the audience. Her songs were performed with sincere dedication, and she felt very comfortable in the part.
Walker Jones portrayed the famous Wizard of Oz. Just like in the original movie, his character does not appear in major portions of the show, but it’s the reference to his character and the events he sets in motion that move and drive the plot. Jones gives a wonderful portrayal of the Wizard and allows the audience to see the Wizard in a different light.
Emily Behny plays Nessarose, the crippled sister of Elphaba. She performs with the use and shows comfort in her characterization. Also, of note is John Hillner and David Nathan Perlow. Both provide solid performances and give strong support to the main characters.
What the audience sees and experience is a beautiful trip to a land of make-believe. Give lots of credit to the unseen members of this traveling shows. The sets, the props, the stage direction, the stage management, the lighting, the musicians, the sounds all add up to an over-the-top performance and production of Wicked.
On Broadway, Wicked opened in October of 2003 and continues to be a favorite among New York City theatergoers. The long-running show boasts a current run of nearly 4,150 performances.
Even though Wicked has visited Kansas City before, the three-week run those sellout crowds for several nights. Some sections are almost completely sold out for the run of the show. For tickets go to the website to see what seats remain available. Tickets may be booked online at: theatreleague.com.