Wicked, the well-loved Broadway musical about the witches from the land of Oz, hit Atlanta this week at the beautiful Fox Theatre. Up until Hamilton, Wicked was arguably the “It” Broadway show, thanks much in part to the stellar original performances by Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel. Having never seen the musical and knowing surprisingly little about it, Thursday night’s performance at the Fox Theatre was a complete delight for me.
For those who somehow also missed seeing Wicked either on Broadway or on the road over the last 16 years, it’s the The Wizard of Oz prequel is told from the point of view of the very blonde, very bubbly Galinda (who eventually becomes Glinda the Good Witch). She tells the story of who the Wicked Witch of the West really was before the events of the L. Frank Baum novel—a misunderstood awkward girl named Elphaba. Spoiler alert, wickedness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and from the looks of what went down, Elphaba, the very green and not-at-all-bubbly “wicked” witch wasn’t all that bad. In fact, she was… pretty good. Better than Glinda, even, if you can believe it. The musical is based on Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire.
While the music by Stephen Schwartz alone would have made this a Broadway hit, the reason Wicked has quickly become a classic is Winnie Holzman’s story—a look into the dynamics of friendship, loyalty and what really makes someone good or evil. Elphaba was painted as evil by the con-man Wizard and his cronies because she went against the grain in both her looks and actions. And Glinda was considered good, really just because she was pretty and popular. As you’d expect, the motives behind both main characters were deeply misunderstood. Despite Glinda being the so-called “good witch,” the real hero of the story is Elphaba, green skin and all.
Though Wicked debuted on Broadway in 2003, the fandom surrounding the show is still very much alive. At the Fox Theatre Thursday night, I felt like I might have been the only person there who had never seen the show, though I know that’s certainly not true. The audience cheered along throughout the entire performance, which featured Allison Bailey as Galinda/Glinda and Talia Suskauer as Elphaba. Tom Flynn was a fantastic Doctor Dillamond, and Curt Hansen, who played Fiyero on Broadway in 2018, reprised the role for the touring show. Most exciting in my opinion was the intricate, moving Art Deco set and the difficult, well-executed choreography by the chorus. Overall, the show exceeded my expectations. The music is downright excellent and the touring production is pure, unadulterated fun.
Wicked will be in Atlanta through Nov. 17 at the Fox Theatre as part of the 2019-2020 Fifth Third Bank Broadway In Atlanta Season. You can purchase tickets and read more about it right here.