Thursday, January 27, 2022

Broadway in Tucson Review: "Wicked"

The spell "Wicked" casts is tough to emulate. The tireless touring production is a traveling gift to musical theater lovers across the nation. 

Since debuting on Broadway in 2003, the adaptation of the Gregory Maguire novel has thrilled audiences, inspiring passionate devotion akin to that of a sports fan. The story turns "The Wizard of Oz" tale inside out, positioning the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, as the misunderstood hero.

Graced with a knockout soundtrack, edgy cinematography and a boundless sense of momentum, the show is as much a thrill ride as it is a moving drama of acceptance, perception and forbidden romance.

Elevated by ethereal performances by Talia Suskauer as Elphaba, Allison Bailey as Glinda and Amanda Fallon Smith as Nessarose, "Wicked" soars with an elegant majesty. 

Bailey, in particular, thrives in the role of the pompous princess, whose oblivious musings elicit continual chuckles from the crowd. Suskauer's choices with Elphaba are equally moving, drawing pathos for her plight of eputational martyrdom as she pursues some semblance of personal happiness while striving for the greater good for those she loves. Smith's character is one-dimensional, but played with magnetic verve by the smirking, seething actress.

Jordan Litz also impresses as Fiero, instilling a workmanlike nuance and sensitivity into his emotionally torn character.

Spellbinding stagecraft, with giant set pieces, stirring flying, makeup and pyrotechnics give the production an air of class and top-flight quality. Watching "Wicked" is a true modern rite of theater appreciation, and not only a status symbol but a transcendent experience that colors the way you experience all other shows. 

To see "Wicked" is to defy not only gravity, but the weights of society that drag people down and pin them into boxes. The hard choice is not whether to see the show, but whether or not you can stop yourself from going again and again until it takes flight to the next lucky town.

 "Wicked" is playing at Centennial Hall through Feb. 6. Buy tickets here.

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