Review “Wicked” (Broadway in Chicago): The Witches are Back… Thank Goodness!

Friday, September 30, 2022 Permalink 0

Broadway in Chicago, in conjunction with Marc Platt * Universal Stage Productions * The Araca Group * Jon B. Platt * David Stone, present the Tony Award-winning WICKED.  

‘Good news! Good news! Look there is Glinda’… and Elphaba! The witches of Oz are back in Chicago! And ‘Thank Goodness’! 

These witches were first introduced by L. Frank Baum in his children’s story “The Wonderful World of Oz” in the early 1900s. Then, they were immortalized in MGM’s iconic 1939 movie. Nearly a hundred years after their conception, Gregory Maguire gave these witches voices and backstories in his novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.” Maguire completely shifts the heroine and the point of view through his clever storytelling. Dorothy and Toto become mere shadows to the  real happenings in the Land of Oz. This ingenious novel was later brought to the stage by the creative team of Winnie Holzman (book) and Stephen Schwartz (music and lyrics). 

Seeing “Wicked” for the fourth time last night, I became more aware of Holman hilariously weaving in familiar lines and bits from the classic film. This time, it is Elphaba exclaiming “There is no place like home.” After sending Dorothy down the yellow brick road, Glinda admits to herself that she’s bad at directions. And in one of my favorite quips, Glinda responds to Elphie’s shoe fetish with ‘you’re out of control.’ The witty lines in dialogue and songs continually amuse. With one well-placed word in “What is this feeling?’, Schwartz cracks the entire auditorium up. The “Popular” lyrics are comedy gold! And in this production, the peppy antics of the effervescent Jennafer Newberry (Glinda) accentuate every joke.     

At the heart of this musical is the unexpected friendship between Glinda and Elphie (played by the commanding Lissa deGuzman). It’s the prom queen meets socially conscious nerd quandary. The magnetic Newberry and deGuzman make the opposites attract palpable. Individually, they each hold their own. Opening the show, Newberry glides in like a perfect opera diva. deGuzman closes the first act by the crushing the inspirational anthem “Defying Gravity.” Yet, they are a tour de force when they are together. Their relationship develops from loathing to learning to loving. The chemistry is so real when Newberry and deGuzman sing the final song “For Good”, I’m moved to tears.  

Although the primary plot is the witch’s unlikely friendship, there is a guy. There always is a guy! Fiyero (played by dashing Jordan Litz) is the charming love interest. In the first act, Litz and Newberry are the model power couple in “Dancing Through Life.” Later, Litz and deGuzman sing a passionate and fiery duet. Captivating! The whole Ozian ensemble, in colorful costumes by Susan Hilferty, have come to Chicago to entertain! And they do!                       

WICKED is one of my top five musicals of all time. This WICKED is a terrific version for WICKED newbies and aficionados! If you haven’t see it before, definitely go!! Or if you’ve seen it once or multiple times, why don’t you already have your tickets?        

Running Time: Two hours and fifty minutes includes an intermission

Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph 

Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire 

Book by Winnie Holzman

Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

Directed by Joe Mantello

Musical staging by Wayne Cilento 

Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30pm

Saturdays at 8pm

Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays at 2pm

Thru December 4th

For more information or tickets

Photography by Joan Marcus

For more Chicago theatre information and reviews, please visit Theatre in Chicago

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