Based on the size of the audience at Thursday night’s performance, Proctors’ choice to bring back “Wicked” was an intelligent one. It’s a show with a little bit of something for everyone, from musical theater buffs to dance aficionados to romance junkies to people who like complex characters.
“Wicked” (based on the novel written by University at Albany alumnus Gregory Maguire) has done as well as it has because it has something from our collective consciousness — the story of “The Wizard of Oz” — but from a different point of view.
We all love to know the other side of the story, and “Wicked” tells it — from the witch’s point of view. How it was to grow up green. How she was treated by her family, peers, society. What she dreamed of. How she became wicked. Or, was she? Or just misunderstood? Throw in some power ballads by Stephen Schwartz and some gorgeous stage work and you’ve got a hit.
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: Through Nov. 25
HOW MUCH: $165-$35
MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org
The touring company performing at Proctors put on a joyous, high-energy production. They’re a younger cast than I’ve seen in the roles in the past, which adds a layer of truth to the scenes set in school that I hadn’t seen before (yet manages to take nothing away from the later scenes, happily enough.)
For Gazette theater writer Bill Buell’s preview of this show, click here.
I was especially impressed with Jeanna de Waal’s Glinda. The witch Elphaba is the star, and rightfully so: The show is about her, after all. Glinda, if not done well, can take a back seat. But de Waal managed to add just the right amount of gravity to her Glinda to take her from a vapid cheerleader to someone to be reckoned with; by the end of the show, you were honestly rooting for her. Her “Thank Goodness,” especially at the end where her true emotions shine through, was fantastic, as was her adorably playful “Popular.”
Christine Dwyer’s Elphaba was also a standout. Although the show is a musical and the singing was wonderful (especially her “I’m Not That Girl,”) the acting truly stood out in this production. The actors weren’t lazy; they didn’t allow the songs to do the work for them. Their characterization work was excellent. The scenes with Dwyer and de Waal had excellent chemistry, as well. Their duet on “For Good” was genuinely touching.
Billy Harrigan Tighe did great work holding his own against the women as the man they vie over, Fiyero; it can be a bit of a thankless part, as the show truly belongs to the two women, but his character arc was interesting to watch and his duets with both women were wonderful.
The sets and costumes were amazing. Tours rarely disappoint in this regard, and “Wicked” is no exception. Other than a couple of technical glitches (a few sound issues near the beginning, a slight makeup/costume mishap near the end) you truly were transported to Oz. The details are worth paying attention to: the scrollwork on the railing at one point is straight from the illustrations from the L. Frank Baum books, for example, which adds a layer of wonder for those of us a little more invested in the stories than others might be.
“Wicked” will do just fine at Proctors this time around. It’s one of those shows people will see time and time again and not tire of. Luckily, this production will not disappoint in the least.
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