"Wicked," show #834
The currently touring production of Wicked delivers the goods on the sweeping Schwartz score and Holzman book with energy and commitment one expects in this spectacle-filled, fill-in-the-blank prequel to The Wizard of Oz. While I generally find something new to appreciate with every viewing of Wicked, this time I had the pleasure of simply sitting back and enjoying the hard-working cast.
Jennafer Newberry and Lissa DeGuzman lead the company of Ozians as Glinda and Elphaba, respectively. Newberry gives a performance equal parts genuine and funny, and conveys the exact level of ditz in “What is This Feeling?” and “Popular.” DeGuzman is stellar as Elphaba, who increases intensity, both vocally and emotionally, throughout the show. Her solid “The Wizard and I” is not the belting-parade one expects, but it’s all for good reason. Once DeGuzman goes through Elphaba’s trials of losing Dr. Dillamond (played charismatically well by Michael Genet) and being betrayed by The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (a hypnotically appealing John Bolton) she lets it all out on “Defying Gravity,” a number sure to bring you back from intermission. DeGuzman caps her triumphant performance with a “No Good Deed” which nearly breaks walls with the power and gravitas supporting her belt and intensity. Jordan Litz delivers on all fronts as Fiyero, one of the best bro roles in the modern musical theatre canon. Litz doesn’t overdo his Fiyero riffs and charm, but rather is the role and supports his female love interests strongly. However, in the captivating “As Long as You’re Mine,” Litz and DeGuzman leave no chemistry-based inflection untouched, and it is this number which stamps their relationship as one the audience must root for.
Jake Pedersen does well as Boq, the object of Nessarose’s affection when he asks her to the Oz Dust Ballroom out of favor towards impressing Galinda. Kimberly Immanuel, as Nessarose, gives a slow-burn performance, from innocent-enough sister to Elphaba to near-obsessed lover to Boq, culminating in a stellar turn at “The Wicked Witch of the East.” The ensemble is in fine form, both in dance and voice, providing excellent solos, commentary, and dance turns along the way. With Wicked being a tried-and-true musical triumph, it’s no wonder I can only smile when I see a production that knows what it’s doing with the material. Check the tour website to see if Oz is coming to a town near you!