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Wicked (Review)

By Rick Pender · November 4th, 2011 · Onstage
wicked1Photo: Joan Marcus

“No one mourns the wicked,” sang the residents of Oz as the blockbuster musical opened its four-week run at Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center. In truth, everyone loves the Wicked: This is the third long visit to our city for a show that’s had more than 3,300 performances on Broadway since 2003. Stephen Schwartz’s Wizard of Oz-inspired musical about the green witch has become a cultural icon for adolescent girls who yearn for freedom and success. Thousands, with or without their families, will flock downtown between now and Thanksgiving weekend, and they won’t be disappointed.

Mamie Parris portrays Elphaba as a character with depth and emotion. We feel her embarrassment, we resonate with her yearning to overcome obstacles, we suffer from her social ostracism and we sense her desire for both justice and acceptance.

What’s more, we love her songs, especially the sorrowful “I’m Not That Girl” and even more her anthemic “Defying Gravity.” 

Tours strive to replicate the Broadway experience, and this one does a dazzling job with its eye-popping (and constantly changing) costumes, dazzling and fluidly changing sets (the visit to the Emerald City is spectacular), flying effects and giant talking heads, energetic choreography and more. But it saddens me to watch Amanda Jane Cooper, who tries to recreate the antics of Kristin Chenoweth, the original Glinda, Elphaba’s “popular” rival. I’d rather see Cooper make the role her own instead of reaching for vocal effects and physical bits that feel more mechanical than natural. Sure, it’s fun — but the role needs more of this actress’s own spunk. If this is your first time to see Wicked, you won’t feel let down, but this mimicry diminishes the potentially powerful interaction between Glinda and Elphaba, a connection you should feel powerfully in “For Good,” the closing number about how bettered each other’s lives.

WICKED, presented by Broadway Across America at the Aronoff Center, continues through Nov. 26.



11.04.2011 at 03:44 Reply

I disagree with your comments about Glinda/Cooper.  While Mamie Parris/Elphaba was stonger vocally (she was AMAZING), the part of Glinda was beautifully acted.  The role is meant to be played how it was played - that is not mimicry.  If it didn't work and came off as mechanical, how did she end up with so many laughs?  Did you actually attend the show or just call it in?  One has to wonder . . .


11.07.2011 at 03:53 Reply

I completely agree with the review.  Saturday nights performance for Glinda the Good was definitely not good.  Instead it was pretty awful.  Her singing was mostly flat and she was so nasal.  I felt as though she hadn't warmed up before the first act.  The second act though was amazing.  I was sad that she wasn't great throughout the show.  Her acting was ok.        She was funny, but the comedy seemed very forced. 

Elpheba on the other hand was amazing.  Her voice was pure and she gave me goosebumps and chills.  I can say nothing but wonderful things about her.

For any person who is going to see the show, definitely go see it.  Elpheba is amazing.  Costuming is fantastic and the scenery was great.

I was extremely impressed by the chorus as well.  Strong singing with phenomenal harmonies.  The orchestra was also fantastic.