Wicked brings the magic of the theater to life in the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Based on the 1995 novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by Gregory Maguire, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman. The musical tells the story from the witches' perspective of the Land of Oz. There are several references to the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, and novel. It's no wonder that Wicked is called America's biggest blockbuster. The musical has won 3 Tony Awards and 6 Drama Desk Awards. The production premiered in 2003 with Joe Mantello directing and Wayne Cilento as the choreographer. Wicked celebrated it's ninth anniversary on October 30th, 2012. The musical has broken box office records around the world. Its story about the two witches from Oz has charmed audiences around the world.
The story is as follows: Once upon a time there was a girl who repulsed most people with her emerald green skin. Her name was Elphaba (Christine Dwyer). Her Dad (Wayne Schroder) only had affection for her sister, Nessarose (Zarah Mahler), who is confined to a wheelchair. Elphaba became her caretaker, dedicated to taking care of her younger sister to the best of her ability. But their father decided to send them away to school, allowing Elphaba to attend solely for the purpose of caring for Nessarose. The presence of Elphaba in school repelled the other students. They mocked her appearance because she was different. Wicked expands the Wizard of Oz by delving into how those who are different are rejected in a society that doesn't understand them, casting them aside or condemning them to mockery, bullying, verbal and physical torture or isolation.
An actress's main objective is to connect with the audience. Christine Dwyer does just that when she projects the pain Elphaba feels. She is a multi-talented performer, who can The actress turns in a top performance as the outcast Elphaba, tormented by the throngs because of the difference of her skin color. A dutiful daughter and sister, she insists on caring for her younger sibling when Madame Morrible, the schoolmistress, orders them to be assigned separate rooms. Elphaba is to be roommates with Glinda, who hasn’t yet become Glinda the Good Witch. She becomes more disillusioned after she meets the Wizard (Paul Kreppel). Elphaba watches in frustration how her attempts at good deeds are twarted time after time, leading her to make a final decision at the end.
Glinda, as played by Jeanna De Waal, a goody-two-shoes, is all excited along with the rest of the students, when entering school. Her blond good looks, cheery and sparkly personality illuminate the stage. De Waal’s latest role was in the role of Chris Hargensen in Carrie. Previous credits include American Idiot (Broadway), We Will Rock You (West End) The Rocky Horror Picture Show (The Old Globe and San Diego). De Waal prances around the stage, like a delicate bird chirping happily. She breaks into song evoking her feelings in a rich pure voice that can be heard clearly in the whole theater. De Waal turns in a powerful performance switching from her moments of denial to her times of resignation. Glinda sees the world through rose-colored-glasses until confronted with reality.
Enter shallow, self-centered Fireyo, who never met a mirror or comfort he didn’t like, adding a love interest to the tale. Fireyo played by Billy Harrigan Tighe, has the role down to a “t”. Fireyo is at first attracted to Glinda, whose beauty scintillates in every scene she is on while Elphaba’s compassion lights up the audience’s hearts and also Fireyo's. Elphaba and Fireyo prevail when Dr. Dillamond is yanked away from his classroom because he, too, is different from the other teachers. He isn’t human. He is an animal. A very intelligent one but who cares in this intolerant group. Elphaba’s stance of standing up for his Dr. Dillamond's rights strikes Fireyo’s heart. This is the crux of the plot.
Eugene Lee, the Scenic Designer’s artistic outlook frames the stage magnificently for the tale of Elphaba and how she became the Wicked Witch of the West. As they say, there are two sides to every story. Audiences have been in love with The Wizard of Oz for years, but there were always lingering questions about the story. Then Wicked came about, extinguishing those questions by explaining the whys. Wicked explores beyond Oz by offering intricate details exposing the truth about Elphaba, Glinda, and the rest of the characters in their transition to who they came to be. Eugene Lee’s décor enhance this production into a wonderful work of art. Special Effects genius Chic Silber maintains Wicked theatergoers entranced.
The exquisite detailed costumes designed by Susan Hilferty in an array of brilliant colors in some and dark hues in others, deserves the highest praises. Fellow theater goers gushed at the beauty of these designs. The dancing shoes and boots accent the gorgeous dresses. Hilferty’s Broadway credits includes Wonderland, Sondheim on Sondheim, Spring Awakening ((Tony nomination), and Lestat (Tony nomination).
Patrons have a pleasing theater experience due to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts' amenities. Valet parking is available, as is access to an exclusive lounge. The club level has a private lounge and dedicated seating section with very comfortable seats. Courteous employees abound to assist ticket holders. Wicked will be presented until Sunday, February 17th. There are matinees available on Saturdays and Sundays.