Oh, I know that’s a lame title, but it is entirely accurate. We just returned home from the Bushnell Center in Hartford, Connecticut. We saw the touring company performance of Stephen Schwartz’ "Wicked" and it was marvelous!
A few weeks ago, Chuck and I went to see the revival and contemporary re-staging of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” at the Colonial Theater in Boston, Massachusetts. It was dreadful; poorly miked, self conscious and, most improbably, lacking passion. I was so disappointed that I didn’t even bother to mention it here on my blog. So I admit to having a touch of trepidation that the touring company of “Wicked” couldn’t live up to the Original Broadway Cast Recording starring Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel. But Katie Rose Clarke as “Glinda” and Carmen Cusack as “Elphaba” easily gave those other Broadway gals a run for their money with their excellent voices! The rest of the cast was quite fine. The staging was very high calibre. The lighting and sound did exactly what they were supposed to do and did it well in the exceptionally long, exquisitely decorated, art deco Mortensen Hall.
“Wicked” is based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Gregory Maguire. It explores how the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good came to be, before author L. Frank Baum, in 1900 and Hollywood, in 1939, brought them to life in the "Wizard of Oz". The dark themes of oppression and suppression of free speech and individual rights, resonate powerfully whether you look to today’s headlines or Europe in the 1930’s or any other moment in history when a few in power rule by whim and calumny. This tension is offset by the bright and witty lyrics of the lighter musical numbers, but never jarringly so.
After tonight’s finale, the audience at the Bushnell rose to their feet, cheering the cast at the curtain call and left the theater chatting brightly, humming and singing snatches from the score. That’s a collective review any cast member would be proud to lay claim to!