Wicked at the Oriental Theatre Ford Center for the Performing Arts
As I was thoroughly enjoying the many wonderful themes in this show I couldn’t help but feel a tiny pang of jealousy for all the little girls who are growing up with this musical as part of their psychological repertoire. I really wanted to be a witch when I was little. I wanted to be a good witch who casts spells to bring baby birds back to life when they fell from their nests. I wanted a magic spell to put the lizard’s tails back on when my brothers pulled them off, and another one to make the boy I had a crush on fall in love with me. But there were no movies or musicals that really dealt with anything magical in the positive way that either Wicked or the Harry Potter series do so beautifully. Wicked really is a great show full of fairly complex feminist and humanist themes that should empower young women to courageously explore and accept all the dimensions of their growing personalities from light to dark.I absolutely adored this wonderfully cast production of Wicked in Chicago. Rondi Reed, whom I instantly recognized from her Steppenwolf days, was a delight to see in the part of Madame Morrible. Rondi’s earthy, dry sense of humor was perfect to really anchor the young cast and give the whole show a gritty, Mae West presence - a center point around which to fly their broomsticks or magic bubbles, as it were.
Annaleigh Ashford as Glinda, the Good Witch, was really terrific as well. She looked a little like a Cameron Diaz’s Fairy Princess, and had a great sense of physical comic timing and a very strong vocal performance.
I felt especially lucky to see Jennifer DiNoia in the starring role of Elphaba, as she is the standby for this role. Jennifer did a fantastic job portraying the spunky, misunderstood witch with too much power for her own good. Her voice and expressiveness were outstanding. Also, I must say, it was refreshing to see an actual brunette playing a role that was written specifically for and about a brunette. The whole show is about the perceptions people have about one girl being dark haired, green skinned and pensive with a wry sense of humor, as opposed to the bubbly, bright, perky blonde Glinda.
The entire cast shone in this lovely production that your whole family will enjoy. Truly, whether you are young, old, male or female there is enough complexity, humor, music and fireworks in this show to keep you coming back to enjoy Wicked time and time again. My witch’s cap is off to this fine witches brew!
*Please note that Wicked will be ending its run in Chicago in January of 2009 after many successful years of thrilling audiences.