Sunday, July 22, 2007
By Joe Walker
The New Citizens Press
Darkness covered the Wharton Center audience like dirt over a grave. All eyes were focused on the stage, everybody dead silent; the crashing of well-orchestrated dramatic music surrounded. Elphaba had just accepted The Land of Oz saw her as evil. They now called her The Wicked Witch of the West. With her flying broom in hand and her soul spilling from her mouth in the form of an emotional song, she ominously hovered several feet in the air above the audience; she defied gravity, an angry army of guards and orders of her surrender. As an ensemble joined in song on the stage floor below, spotlights brought attention to the intense look on her face. Her green skin glowed in the dark. Their combined voices road one climatic note to finale, closing Act I with a sudden, emphatic halt. The audience responded with ovation.
Wicked is an awesome display of sight and sound, acting and performing. The elaborate, ever-changing set - with its many colors and effects - is a must-see! This is by far the best play I've seen live. It's intriguing, very funny, and just an overall entertaining time throughout. Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, Wicked will quickly change your perception of The Wizard of Oz. As the untold story of friends Glinda The Good Witch and Elphaba unfolds, one gains a new appreciation for the story, the legend and all its characters. I was happy to learn that all is not as it seems in The Land of Oz.
Victoria Matlock's riveting performance as the first-outcast, next well-known Wicked Witch was believable throughout the production. As Plymouth Rock landed on her, one could feel her heart breaking under the pressure of peer and family betrayal. Christina DeCicco kept the darkest moods light as the bubbly, often goofy Galinda (she later changes her name to Glinda). Her air-brained antics coupled with Elphaba's serious -but-dry humor made for many hilarious moments. Galinda's darker side also bated reaction. When the two stars joined in song, Matlock's toned power-Pop vocals mixed in pleasant unison with DeCicco's higher-pitched operatic arrangements.
The Act I-concluding “Defying Gravity” was but one of the many great songs of Wicked. Fiyero (Cliffton Hall), Wicked's leading male character, made a stunning entrance singing the fun “Dancing Through Life”. My favorite number was “A Sentimental Man” - a solo jazz-like confessional sang and danced by The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (P.J. Benamin) himself.
From Wicked's opening celebration and revelation, to its dynamic conclusion, this is the play to see. I highly recommend it to theater buffs and theatrical haters alike. You will enjoy it! Thank you, Wharton Center and all your sponsors and supporters, for bringing magic to Lansing.