‘Wicked’ spellbinds as a musical extravaganza

COSTA MESA (News4usonline) – After nearly 20 years on stage, “Wicked” is still able to captivate audiences by immersing them in a magical emerald cloak of non-stop, Broadway-style show-stopping musical numbers, quirky but relatable characters and themes of prejudice and acceptance that seem to be more relevant today than they were when the production first debuted.

“Wicked,” is about the implausible friendship between the witches of Oz, Elphaba and Glinda, who defy all expectations and subvert the narrative from their inspired source martial that conveys the wicked witch of the West was just an evil tyrant.

The musical delves into the tragic life story of the verdigris-toned girl who is gifted magical powers which has become a valued resource in the land of Oz.

One of the biggest aspects of the production, which is quintessential to the continued success of the show along with the soundtrack and narrative, is the amazing set design that was originally created by Eugene Lee.

The stage is filled with a dense array of beautiful backdrops which blaze with illuminated green lights and an eccentric “mechanical” Wizard of Oz that josilates and jerks with an intense vigor that is awe-inspiring. 

Allison Bailey, Talia-Suskauer in the North American Tour of WICKED. Photo by Joan Marcus

The current touring company was able to deliver the same grandeur and whimsical essence that has been heard through the Grammy award-winning album for nearly two decades.

Along with the sensational ensemble, the two leads did an excellent job of honing their individuality in their performances by portraying the spirit of their well-established characters rather than being carbon copies of the original cast members.

Allison Bailey plays Glinda the Good Witch, who gave a frenetic performance that was mostly played comedic but was able to deliver a more dramatic mood by the end of act two. The youthful star exemplified the aura of Glinda walking the rigorous tightrope of being an annoying narcissist to a beloved friend.

However, the show is not without its central character, Elphaba, played by the wonderful Talia Suskauer. Although the musical is seen as having two leads, the strongest and most memorable songs belong to the misunderstood wicked witch. Suskauer steals the spotlight with her renditions of “The Wizard and I,” “I’m Not That Girl,” and “No Good Deed.”

Amanda Fallon Smith, Talia Suskauer, Sharon Sachs Allison Bailey. Photo by Joan Marcus

However, it is the act one closing number “Defying Gravity,” that still wells up the eyes with tears of excitement for a character most of us can relate to as she embodies the undesirable outcast who becomes undeniable.

The rest of the principal cast is superb. Lisa Howard plays the disdainful Madame Morrible with a playful conceit. Cleavant Derricks plays the absent-minded but charming Wizard who exemplifies a leader lacking leadership, and Clifton Davis plays Doctor Dillamond, the bipedal goat with a sorrowful candor.

“Wicked” surpassed Les Misérables as the fifth longest-running production in Broadway history and was nominated for nine Tony Awards in 2004 and won the Grammy for Best Musical Show Album in 2005.

The musical is a bombastic, thrilling, and exhilarating show that utilizes the best of aspects of set design, ensemble choreography, individual performance along with having a catchy and memorable soundtrack.

It is a show that warrants watching the experience live to fully grasp the magnitude of its epic atmosphere while being an enjoyable and exciting production that has been adored by audience members of all ages that is absolutely spellbinding.

The current touring company of “Wicked” can be seen at Segerstrom Center for the Arts through March 6. 

Featured Image: Allison Bailey, Talia Suskauer in the North American Tour of WICKED Photo by Joan Marcus