WICKED: Saw the Boston stop of the Wicked tour yesterday. As is always true of tours, the physical production was scaled-down, but the show remains a strong one. Here's a great example of a spectacular show in which the spectacle enhances the story, rather than hides the fact that there isn't one. [Insert name of Andrew Lloyd Webber show here]
Am I biased because my dear friend Stacey Stephens is the wardrobe supervisor on the tour? Not at all. I fell in love with Wicked long before Stacey became involved.
What I like most about the show is that, unlike many popular musicals, it has ideas, especially those espoused in the Wizard's numbers: that people need a common enemy to pull them together, and that history is written by the victors. Both of those notions are very timely indeed. But the great thing about Wicked is that in works on a populist level as well.
The show has some minor flaws: most of Elphaba's numbers end on a reeeeeeaaaaaallllllly looooooong nooooooooooote, which gets a bit much after a while, although the suburban school girls and soccer moms eat it up. And the power ballad in the second act, "As Long As You're Mine," is generic and superfluous. But on the whole, Wicked remains a funny, affecting, and satisfying show.
The performers in the Wicked tour are by and large excellent, particularly Julia Murney and Kendra Kessenbaum as Elphaba and Glinda respectively. Murney, as anyone familiar with Lippa's The Wild Party knows, has quite a set of pipes on her. What's more she can actually act the role, unlike the overrated Idina Menzel. Kessenbaum was quite different from Kristen Chenoweth, but she really made the part her own, and was very effective and quite funny.
SCORE: A minus