Los Angeles first encountered Wicked the Musical in 2005 when it broke box office records. It returned two years later for an extended run that lasted two years. Now, Wicked is back at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, and it is so powerful that the magical spell that is casts on everyone will never be broken. Unlike the movie, The Wizard of Oz, this musical takes us back to a time before Dorothy arrived. It is a brilliantly imaginative back story that explains how Elfaba came to be the Wicked Witch of the West, starting with the conception that led to her being born green. It follows her relationship with Glinda after they meet at school and a misunderstanding lands them as hostile roommates who eventually become lifelong friends. The mysteries of how there came to be a Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion are revealed, as well as how the flying monkeys got their wings. With elaborate sets and costumers, memorable songs in the score, just the right amount of sentimentality in the plot line, a entire cast that was mesmerizing, and a balanced mixture of singing and spoken dialogue, the hit Broadway musical created a recognizably Wicked world.
As the perfect backdrop for the show, the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles was breathtaking. Upon entering, I knew I was in Hollywood. The scarlet red and gold décor was spectacular and there wasn’t a bad, or empty, seat in the house.
The entire cast of the musical is nothing short of amazing! The tone and pitch of the singing and the choreography in the dancing was untouchable. The cast truly brought the story of Oz to life, and it was wicked! Katie Rose Clarke beautifully played the role of Glinda and was one of the highlights of the performance. Her overly dramatic movements reminded me of a Saturday Night Live character and had me laughing with delight most of the production. Kevin McMahon is entertaining as the wonderful Wizard of Oz. The superbly talented Mamie Parris does a great job of interpreting the varied emotions of the unlikely green heroine and her phenomenal voice rung throughout the entire theatre.
The elaborate set and costumes are only a piece of the blocks that complete this yellow-brick-road of success! Make-up designs ensure that these characters are developed down to a art form. The special effects that lit up the stage were unbelievable. Every piece of the production reiterates why Wicked is getting such rave reviews. With a giant dragon protruding from above a stage strewn with cogs and wheels, a mechanical floating bubble to carries Glinda, and the blinking lights of the giant golden head, the set was fantastic.
Based on the best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire, Wicked brings lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman. The musical staging is done by none other than the Tony Award winner Wayne Cilento, and Eugene Lee, with three Tony Awards of his own, was the scenic designer. The entire production is directed by the 2003-2004 Tony Award winner Joe Mantello.
With a running time of 2 hours and 45 minutes, this production is recommended for ages 8 and up, but I have no doubt that anyone who attends will be impressed with this visual spectacle. After all, it has a brain, a heart, and the courage of a lion.