Wicked continues defying gravity

After all this time, Wicked is still wildly entertaining.

Wicked: Laurel Harris and Kara Lindsay (Photo by Joan Marcus 2014)

Laurel Harris and Kara Lindsay as Glinda and Elsabeth, the Witches of Oz.

Thursday night saw the return of the mega-hit musical, Wicked to the stunning Ed Mirvish theatre in Toronto. This is the third time the production is part of a Mirvish season, but it’s been an absolute joy to behold each time.

Wicked has everything that one could wish for in a theatrical performance—a stunning set that utilizes the entire stage, beautiful costuming, a great story and a powerful music score with equally impressive lyrics. Put these elements in the wrong hands and things can be disastrous. Not so with this production.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Wicked, based on the best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire, relates the tale of Oz before Todo and Dorothy were suspiciously (and here explained), dropped in. It’s the story of two unlikely friends, one born with emerald green skin, intelligent, fiery and ostracized from birth; and a “beautiful,” popular, wealthy, self-absorbed girl who come together to shape the world of Oz and the Emerald City. It sheds a very different light on a well-known tale.

The roles of Glinda the Good and Elphaba, later dubbed Wicked Witch of the West, must be played by strong female leads. It would have had to be so from Wicked’s first go-round, but perhaps even more so now that the musical has become so popular, and with many already familiar with its powerhouse songs.  Laurel Harris, as Elphaba, certainly has the most challenging musical role, in particular, having to absolutely wow audiences with the song that has become synonymous with the production—“Defying Gravity.”

Harris is a very good Elphaba. She gives a witty, passionate performance with just-the-right amount of vulnerability displayed on stage. Musically, she has the voice, but her performance here was sometimes spotty. Her singing was not always clear and at times, felt overdone.

Kara Lindsay as Glinda felt a little too over-the-top bubbly throughout the first half, but toned it down just enough to show her character’s growth for the second half. All her numbers were quite well sung and overall, she did a fine job.

The Broadway Musical Wicked

Wicked’s supporting cast, including the chorus, are spot on and round off a delightful production.

The supporting cast were all quite good and carry their own merit. Having seen Wicked before, I will say that Matt Shingledecker as playboy Fiyero, the love interest of both women, is by far the best I’ve witnessed. Naturally handsome, he brings the right amount of pomp at the beginning, but truly shows his chops when he first falls under Elphabas spell. His confused, lost focus felt genuine and was both funny and touching.

It’s all the elements combined that makes Wicked so special and it really is something to behold.

Only here for a limited run, make sure to catch it, before it flies off to another city.

Wicked, in Toronto until November 2, plays at Ed Mirvish Theatre at 244 Victoria Street.

For tickets and additional information please visit: www.Mirvish.com





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