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A Broadway musical based on the best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire

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Wicked is Wonderful. (There. I Said It.)

  • Feb 25, 2010
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My reputation as a theatre professional may take a hit because of this review (because "goodness knows," true theatre people aren't supposed to appreciate "Popular" shows) but "I'm Not that Girl" - call me a "Sentimental [Wo]man" - Wicked leaves me feeling "Wonderful."

The prequel to "The Wizard of Oz," this musical tells the tale of two women - one born with green skin and shunned and the other beautiful and popular. The two become inseparable school chums, but an opportunity to serve the Wizard causes them to split ways - one continuing on as Glenda the Good Witch and the other as the Wicked Witch of the West. The musical is based loosely on the Gregory McGuide novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, but is lightened up considerably for the purposes of creating feel-good musical theatre.

Panned by nearly every critic as "overproduced," "cumbersome," and "a waste of talent," these guys missed the point entirely. Wicked is pure entertainment - it is designed to take the audience into a new world and make them rethink what they know about the Wicked Witch of the West. It was not created to turn theatre on its head or even to speak to those darker political elements central to its source material. Rather, Wicked is the story of two friends attempting to do good in the world the only way they know how - one by becoming a Jackie O. type figure-head and the other a revolutionary fighter. And I believe it accomplishes this brilliantly.

This beautiful story is accompanied by simple, memorable music that allows its phenomenal stars' voices to "Defy Gravity." Though I missed what I've heard was a fantastic performance by Kristin Chenoweth, her replacement, Megan Hilty (who would later go on to star in 9 to 5: The Musical) embodied this seemingly two-dimensional character with depth and brilliance. And Elphaba is a meatier musical theatre role than nearly any in the cannon (Next to Normal's Diana, which had not yet surfaced at the time of Wicked's inception, aside). To this day, I don't know how Idina Menzel didn't blow her vocal chords playing this role for as long as she did - but I am thrilled to have caught her at it.

At the time of this writing, the show has played a total of 2,614 performances on Broadway and continues to celebrate great success around the world - breaking box office record after record. If you ask me - Wicked has etched its place in musical theatre history - and whether theatre aficionados approve of my saying so or not - I say "Thank Goodness."
Wicked is Wonderful. (There. I Said It.) Wicked is Wonderful. (There. I Said It.) Wicked is Wonderful. (There. I Said It.) Wicked is Wonderful. (There. I Said It.)

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December 27, 2010
I hate musicals, but my wife dragged me this one. There were parts of it I enjoyed quite a bit. Very well put together, so it's hard not to find something worth enjoying.
March 01, 2010
I appreciate your review. Better to be candid than to go along with what the "others" are saying. Over-produced? So what? If it was good entertainment as you indicate...that's the whole point of going to a show! Sometimes popular is good.
February 27, 2010
I absolutely loved Wicked -- both the book and the musical. I really agree with your take, and it is pure entertainment. So fun and fanciful, and MUCH lighter than the book, which makes me really excited to take my toddler when she gets old enough. She's a big Wizard of Oz fan, but the themes and moral of Wicked resonate so much more for me, I can't wait to share it with her. Thanks for the review!
February 26, 2010
I just got a GroupOn notification about this in my area... After reading your review, I just might! :)
February 26, 2010
Not really a fan of these events but it is playing close to where I live that I may just give in one of these days. Oh by the way, entertainment value is a small factor in reviewing a play or a movie, so maybe it just didn't even out in the eyes of critics. I only saw one play in my life so I wouldn't really know how to review one. Nice review.
February 26, 2010
A friend of mine who orks in a library sent me a copy of this book. I haven't read it yet, but I hope to in the sort of near future,. The WIZARD OF OZ has always ben one of my favorite films. I once had another friend who hated the Beatles simply because everyone else liked them and another who automatically rejected any film ha had a lot of hype attached to it so I'm very familiar with the concept of hating something sinmoly because others liked it. When something is so polarizing I fweel the need to see it for myself before I judge it.
February 26, 2010
I've never actually understood this, "If it's popular it must be bad," type of stuff that's out there.  The idea that something "popular" can't also be "good" just seems really dumb.  I'm interested in seeing this and I hope to someday.  I tried reading the book but the style of the author (Gregory Macguire, I think is his name, but I'll have to double check) is something that will take a while for me to get used to. 
February 26, 2010
actually the "it's mainstream, so it must be bad" are caused by hacks like Bay, Bret Rattner and some others LOL!
February 26, 2010
Nice review! Its interesting you mention the comparison between the book and play. I read the book a few years ago, and had a hard time getting through it (I just couldn't get into it). My friend recently suggested we go see the play, and if I go-your review has definitely given me a better understanding of what to expect! Thanks!
More Wicked reviews
Quick Tip by . August 04, 2010
posted in Music Matters
Such a great story and amazing music. Love the prequel-ness.
review by . December 23, 2009
Wicked, is wickedly awesome!
I went to see Wicked in Manhattan, New York. This was my 2nd time seeing wicked.  I could see it another one million times it is that good!  There was something for everyone in this show, and it was really entertaining.  The premise of the show is that there is background to the Wizard of Oz that you did not know about, and the entire show is basically a prequil to the movie.       The show is about the Wicked Witch of the West in all her green glory, …
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
Loved the book, LOVED the musical -- phenomenal songs, inspiring performances, great pace -- all around must see!
review by . December 05, 2008
I'll be honest- I'm a musical lover. Ever since I was about 11 years old, my favorite gifts from my parents have been tickets to some Broadway show that had made it's way to LA. When I heard that a modern musical based on a best selling novel was taking over my beloved Pantages, I was leery. When I heard of the insane popularity of said musical, I was even more so. If the great masses loved this show so much, it must be somehow inferior to "true" grand musicals.   Oh I was wrong.  Well-deve …
review by . June 18, 2009
…the Broadway musical of course.   After reading Gregory Maguire's Wicked several years ago I could only imagine how they would bring the magic of Oz to the stage. I had to remind myself before the performance began that Broadway plays, for the most part, are family oriented and tend to like happy endings (neither of which described Wicked.) The musical did a fair job of sticking to the original plot while still remaining family friendly.    My one criticism was how …
review by . June 09, 2009
Having now heard the original soundtrack as performed by the American Broadway cast, and having attended a performance by the Australian Cast, I am completely blown away by the calibur of this musical!    I'll admit to being more than a little biased, and say that I liked the performance given by the Australian cast more, although the American cast is certainly nothing ot slouch at! but I find it interesting how similar and yet how different the voices of the two casts are. If …
review by . March 10, 2009
I appreciate all they had tried to do with "Wicked", being one of those musical theatre aficionados who laments the barrage of "juke box " musicals that have taken over in recent years.  I wanted to LOVE WIcked. It had a plot. Original music, composed by one of Broadway's finest.  It looked wonderful. The actors are top notch. However, I walked out feeling like something was missing.   What was it? It really did come down to the score. Although the music was original, it had …
review by . December 13, 2008
It might be because I saw the musical first.  It might be because I'm a sucker for a good happy ending.  It might simply be that I've always loved theatre more than literature.  Regardless, I have to say that I loved the musical version of "Wicked."  In all honesty, I barely even liked the book when I got around to reading it afterwards.    Now, to be fair, it might not be appropriate to compare and contrast these works.  Indeed, they are so different …
About the reviewer
Valerie Rigsbee ()
Ranked #313
Valerie Rigsbee is an actor, designer and webmaster currently based out of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul.      She owns and operates broadwaymusicalhome.com, a directory … more
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The untold musical story of The Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good... before Dorothy dropped in. Based on the imaginative Gregory Maguire novel, Wicked takes a fantasy journey through the unseen side of Oz, sharing a tale of unexpected friendship and love.
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