From the costumes to the music, everything about “Wicked” was perfect. All other adjectives aside, it’s the one expression I can find that really encompasses the enjoyment oozing out of every second of this production.
This was the first time I saw “Wicked” after what seemed like ages of waiting and hoping I’d be in the same place at the same time of one of the tours. And let me tell you, the anticipation, the wondering and waiting pretty much left the highest expectations possible for this particular program. But feeling as though I was going to clap my hands off Thursday night during the curtain call’s standing ovation, I can say, without a doubt, it met and surpassed each of those high expectations with “flying” colors. (And let that set the stage to all those nay-sayers out there, who are on their fifth run of the show and perhaps found it more tired and bland compared to my forthcoming ecstatic review.)
The story of “Wicked” is absolutely brilliant. Giving the other side of the “Wizard of Oz” (the better story, in my humble opinion), “Wicked” explores the mystery behind the lady in green — the Wicked Witch of the West. While the witch may have been the root of many childhood nightmares, the story behind that black hat and tattered broomstick paints a completely different image of this so-called wicked woman.
Without giving too much away, the story brings two unlikely heroes together to tell the story that the Wizard doesn’t want you to know. We find out how the Lion became a coward, how the Tinman lost his heart and why that Scarecrow wasn’t just wishing for a brain. But most of all, we come to understand how the so-called wicked prompts fear and how the good becomes a much more difficult title to uphold.
While the premise largely focuses on the friendship between our two saucy sorcerers, there’s an underlying tale on acceptance, hope and defying the odds.
“Wicked” is hugely entertaining with a strong cast boasting even stronger vocals. The character of the Wicked Witch of the West, better known in this story as Elphaba, is played perfectly by Vicki Noon, who not only belts her solos with a ferocious set of pipes, but adds a sarcastic note to the character.
Noon’s performance of my all-time favorite “Wicked” song, “Defying Gravity,” was so powerfully magnificent that I had to fight the urge to give her a standing ovation before the song was over. I showed similar restraint throughout the show as I was tempted to applaud during less-than-appropriate times, like every instance where Glinda kicked a heel up.
Speaking of Miss Goody Two Shoes, Natalie Daradich was absolutely outstanding as Glinda — aka: the witch formerly known as Galinda. Beyond all the glitz and glitter she was wearing from head-to-toe, Daradich truly sparkled in her portrayal of the good witch, reminding me of “Legally Blonde’s” Elle Woods if she was playing a Disney-esque Fairy Godmother.
The show truly had a feel-good quality, bringing an array of emotions and bouncing flawlessly between drama and comedy. The costumes of the ensemble added to the overall vibe of the show, always utterly delightful in flair — and a clear inspiration to many of Lady Gaga’s latest trends.
Between the music and the performers, it was truly a night I’ll never forget. And pardon my cheesiness, but to quote one of the final songs, I do believe this show has changed me for the better.
“Wicked” continues performances through Sept. 19 at the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Orpheum Theatre. For tickets, go online to Hennepin Theatre Trust’s website.
Sara Boyd is a web producer and columnist at WCCO.COM.