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February 10, 2009

WICKED - SUBLIME PLEASURE TO WATCH


WICKED – 2009 San Francisco

PHOTO: CITY HALL GOES GREEN FOR THE ARRIVAL OF THE GREEN WITCH IN SAN FRANCISCO. Photo by: Cele Hugo

By Lee Hartgrave
February, 2009


WICKED IS SOME KIND OF MIRACLE ON MARKET STREET


ELPHABA (THE GREEN WITCH): -- “You’re the only friend I’ve ever had.” GLINDA (THE GOOD WITCH): – “And I’ve had SO many friends…but only one that mattered.” Of course that ONE would be Glinda.

SHE’S POPULAR (GLINDA) AND ONE IS GREEN (ELPHABA). Glinda is perky and pink and she sings to the Green Witch about how to be pop-u-lar. The galindafied version of being popular is to put on some lipstick, -- and fluff your hair every time you enter a room. Hey, it works for me.

This is the story of Elphaba, a girl from a prominent family that is born with Green skin because her mother drank a green liquid. The family immediately took a dislike to her. No one wanted to be around her, so she grew up without friends. Then at school, she has to room with Miss Personality – Galinda the Good Witch of the North, who later becomes Glinda because no one pronounces Galinda correctly. The fact that these two odd-balls shared a room is really bi-polar. They have nothing in common, however as time goes on Glinda, who has this entitlement personality, begins to really like the poor Green girl. It’s a relationship that does not last for long.

The show begins with the ending. “Is the Witch of the West really dead” ” – the town folks ask as Glinda the good witch descends from the heavens in a glass bubble. She is all sparkle and glitter with a flashy Tiara. And yes, she does have a magic wand.

This is a story that has captured the imagination of the entire world. Composer Stephen Schwartz and the writer of the book, Winnie Holtzman has created a world of mythic dimensions. This fabulous tongue-in-cheek story is based on Gregory Macquire’s book that shows us a prequel to the famous “Wizard of Oz.” In this musical play we find out that the wicked witch of the West, wasn’t always mean and vindictive. To the contrary – Elphaba was actually a very sweet girl when she was young. It was the people that taunted her green-ness that turned her against everyone. The two Witches (Good and Bad) do have one thing in common. There is a certain good-looking young man at school that they both are in love with.

There are wonderful moments with Carol Kane as Head Teacher Madame Morrible. She is just a hoot and funny as hell. And turning things into Hell is what her specialty is. Everyone loves her, even though she does turn against the Green Witch. The set is really a knockout, and the costumes are marvelously bizarre. They are a big part of making this story creepy in a uniquely colorful town.

Every now and then, there is a story that invites you into a bizarre and imagined world. And once you step into that story – you will be held captive forever by the passion and spectacle. Wicked – IS that story!

This is pure unadulterated singing and acting by: Kendra Kassebaum (Glinda), Teal Wicks (Elphaba, Green Witch), Carol Kane (Madame Morrible), Tom Flynn (Doctor Dillamond) Nicolas Dromard (Fiyero – who loves the Green Witch), David Garrison (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – and the first ever Ponzi schemer). Everyone in the cast -- Monkeys, Students, people of the Emerald City and Palace Guards are so great that you’ll want to line up and see it again, the minute it ends!

AT THE ORPHEUM THEATRE

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-
(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicles Sunday Datebook Section and produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

TAGS: Orpheum Theatre, Witches, Green, musicals, music, Theatre, Wizard of Oz, Wicked, Arts, San Francisco, Salem, Twister, beyondchron, Buzzin, Lee Hartgrave, KQED, PBS.

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