Monday, April 4, 2011

Wicked Fun in Ft. Lauderdale

Good and Evil Trade Places In “Wicked"

By Skip Sheffield

“Wicked good!”
That’s what they say in New England when something is exceptional, and that aptly describes the national tour of “Wicked,” running through April 24 at Broward Center for the Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale.
Based on the 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire and written by Stephen Schwartz (music and lyrics) and Winnie Holzman (book), “Wicked” provides the back story of the characters immortalized in the 1939 MGM film classic “The Wizard of Oz,” which in turn was based on L. Frank Baum’s 1900 fantasy, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
“Wicked” focuses on the two girls who would grow up to become symbols of good and evil.
Galinda (Chandra Lee Schwartz) is a peppy blond-blue-eyed beauty destined to become the most popular girl on campus and Glinda, the Good Witch.
Elphaba (Jackie Burns) is intelligent, caring and gifted in special ways, but she is shunned by other kids because she was born with green skin. Through no fault of her own she becomes known as the Wicked Witch of the West.
Glinda and Elphaba are thrown together when they are assigned as roommates by Madame Morrible (Randy Danson), their mysterious school headmistress.
As different and opposite as they are, Glinda and Elphaba become best friends and rivals for the affection of Fiyero (Colin Hanlon), the handsome, vain playboy-type who will become Captain of the Guard of the Land of Oz.
Novelist Maguire created new characters to flesh his fantasy of romance and class conflict: Nessarose (Stephanie Brown), the crippled younger sister of Elphaba, and Boq (Justin Brill), the Munchkin she fancies but who in turn has a crush on Glinda.
Who knew that animals could talk? In this revisionist Oz they even teach school. Doctor Diamond (Paul Slade Smith) is a pedagogue and a goat, but lately he has been enduring anti-animal discrimination.
Yes, there is a lot of metaphorical stuff going on that can be related directly what is going on daily in our world. As in the original, the “Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is neither wonderful not brilliant, but as portrayed by Mark Jacoby, he has a sinister side too.
All the comedy and dramatic intrigue is played out to a wonderful score by Stephen Schwartz that is better than his “Pippin” and equal to the memorable “Godspell.” When anthems like “No One Warns the Wicked,” “Defying Gravity” and “I’m Not That Girl” are delivered by vocalists as powerful as Jackie Burns and Chandra Lee Schwartz, it is powerful stuff indeed. Add to that incredible settings by Eugene Lee, eye-popping, hilarious costumes by Susan Hilferty and sublime lighting by Kenneth Posner and you have something wicked excellent, all under Joe Mantello’s sure direction.
Tickets are $29-$89. Call 954-462-0222 or go to

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