Curiocity Review: ‘Wicked’ Is Spellbinding, Magical
Turns out, Dorothy, from ‘The Wizard of Oz?’ Nothing but a trouble-making farm girl that ruined everything.
We were lead to believe she was nothing more than an innocent, naive lost child from Kansas, just trying to find her way home, somewhere over the rainbow. But we know better now.
We’re on to you, little Miss Braids. We know your so-called heroic tactics were nothing more than a self-serving ploy to get back to your Auntie Em and Uncle what’s-his-name. So much for self-less good deeds for the munchkins — there’s something to be said about a girl who steals ruby red slippers off a dead girl.
Yes, the classic story we’ve all grown to know and love was turned on its head Thursday night at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. “Wicked,” which has celebrated three successful runs in the Twin Cities over the years, is back — and the humor, the vocals and even the costumes seem to be bigger and better.
The story of “Wicked” takes you back, long before there were yellow brick roads to follow or sequined shoes to click. It starts with a simple question — “How does one become wicked?” And the answer leaves you questioning the very meaning of the word.
The show is propelled by a truly all-star cast, lead by our green goddess Alison Luff (Elphaba). Luff’s powerhouse vocals drive the emotion of big-belted anthems like, “Defying Gravity” and adds a softer, delicate side to introspective pieces like, “I’m Not That Girl.” Elphaba is the kind of witch everyone wants to be but no one wants to admit it — she’s strong, talented, not afraid to speak her mind and stand up for something. But she’s also witty and sarcastic, and doesn’t take herself too seriously, well, I mean, for a witch being hunted by the masses.
The ying to her yang is our “good” witch, Jenn Gambatese (Glinda or Galinda, depending on when you met her). Gambatese’s humor and incredible sense of comedic timing elevates the show and creates some of the best moments of the night’s performance. Everything from an overthought flick of her golden blonde locks to a perfectly timed kick of her heel is flawless. She plays perky without being obnoxious, which is no easy task.
The two complement each other like balsamic vinegar and olive oil — at first, they seem to retract but once combined, they’re the perfect balance, not too sweet and not too bitter. The moments where Gambatese and Luff share the spotlight are certainly the most memorable and delightful of the entire evening.
And of course, there’s a boy — one interesting enough, that beyond his good looks and his seeming disinterest in anything happening in the world around him, he somehow becomes the point of this opposites-attract love triangle. Played by Curt Hansen, Fiyero is suave and debonaire, yet passionate. He balances his two worlds while slowly discovering who he really is and what’s worth fighting for.
Coupled with incredible award-winning music and set designs that transport you to the magical world of Oz, “Wicked” is a non-stop enchanting journey that tugs at your heart and keeps you begging for more. And the costumes — oh, the costumes — they’re truly a show in themselves, from the angry mob of witch hunters to the detailed garb of Oz royalty, each piece is a work of art.
It all enhances the interesting, creative storyline of how two witches landed in Oz, were pitted against each other and grew into the labels they were given. Many of your “Wizard” questions are answered — from the puzzling reason why a tin man, scarecrow and cowardly lion are wandering the yellow brick road to the origin of the Wicked Witch of the West’s pointy hat.
But of course, every story needs its villain and in this case, the lines between “good” and “evil” are much more difficult to decipher. The story will keep you guessing with plenty of new perspectives on pure intentions, true good deeds and the effects of giving into the ever-growing rumor mill.
In a world full of “wicked” people and convenient truths, perhaps a little perspective isn’t so bad. Still, I’m still placing my blame on that plaid-wearing goody-two-shoes, and her little dog, too.
Wicked starts Sept. 18 at Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Orpheum Theatre and runs through Oct. 27. For tickets or more information, click here.