Review "Wicked": Spell Remains Unbroken Enchantment!

Broadway in Chicago presents

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WICKED
At Cadillac Theatre, 151 W. Randolph
Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire
Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Book by Winnie Holzman
Directed by Joe Mantello
Thru January 23rd
Buy Tickets
Running Time:  Two hours and forty-five minutes with a fifteen minute intermission

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

Girl kills witch with a house and so her story begins.  Judy Garland captured THAT girl for eternity in the 1930's film, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."  We get her!  She is a runaway who wants to just get back home.   But what about the others?  Who is the man behind the straw?  Which witch is the wickedest?  How does water kill?  Why that hat?  For a limited engagement, Broadway in Chicago is re-painting Chicago green with the Tony-Award winning musical, WICKED.  Before 'Glinda the Good' and 'Wicked Witch of the West' are spellbound, Galinda and Elphaba are school-bound.  Galinda is a popular blonde.  Elphaba is a green-skinned outcast.  Roommate assignments pair the odd couple.  When a popular girl goes green, a foe turns into a gal pal.  An improbable friendship defies gravity in this vivacious musical that is wicked excellent!

Gregory Maguire wrote "Wicked"-the novel.  It illustrates the background stories on characters introduced by L. Frank Baum in his "Land of Oz" children's books.  Maguire's viewpoint twists the perceptions of our childhood beliefs of good and bad people.  Stephen Schwartz puts the imaginative story on stage with a memorable, hummable, uplifting score that is enduringly 'Popular' 'For Good.'  Playwright Winnie Holzman builds the intrigue with feisty dialogue that balances the comedy during the witch hunt.  Same incantation but, different actors cast the same spell of enchantment.  In the lead, Chandra Lee Schwartz (Glinda) sings boldly as a confident perky diva-in-training.  Schwartz is hilarious with her comedic timing and absurd pronouncifications.  She navigates her dream bubble with a firm focus and glimpses of surprising vulnerability.  Jackie Burns (Elphaba) blossoms from wallflower to talking-animal activist.  Burns' transformation is poignant singing the shiver-inducing and inspirational 'Defying Gravity.'  Burns mimics the signature wicked witch cackle perfectly.  Chicago's own Barbara Robertson (Madame Morrible) is outstanding as the manipulative press secretary.  Robertson shifts her alliance to whichever witch speaks her version of Oz-clamations.  Robertson delivers her evil barbs with an elegantly controlled elocution.  Looking like the non-cartoon version of any Disney-created animated hero, Richard H. Blake (Fiyero) is 'dancing through life' with dashing looks and a powerful voice.  The entire cast is a high-energy, swirling, green effervescent spectacle.          

This is the third production of WICKED I've seen.  (It's my second favorite musical after "Les Miserables" which is coming to Chicago again in February 2011.).  Despite the cast changes, the spell remains unbroken enchantment.  WICKED is an elixir guaranteed to produce love at first sight.  It's an intoxication that continues to influence over time.  'Who can say if I've been changed for the better? But because I knew you. I have been changed for good.'

Realizing she isn't in Kentucky anymore, MESD describes it with "Green-Fantastically alluring." 

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  • Glad you liked my fave Chicago performer, La Robertson. And sad I'm missing this tour...

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