By Christopher Heide
“Are people born wicked? Or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?” Wicked is a dazzling story that takes great efforts to fully answer that very adult question.
Wicked is a true cultural phenomenon and a bombastic Broadway production. One of the biggest musicals of the past decade, Wicked is a spectacular retelling of the origin of the Wicked Witch of the West. You’d have to be living under a rock, to not have heard of Wicked within the past few years. In fact, in the entirety of it’s run, Glee featured no less than four full numbers from the blockbuster musical. It’s pure, pop-culture perfection.
This touring production of Wicked is exceptionally strong in musicality, choreography, costuming and comedy. The opening night performance in Seattle was nothing short of perfection.The nearly three hour show whips by at a brisk pace, creating an enveloping and, yes, magical world.
Unsurprisingly, the strongest elements of the show were the two leading ladies. Carrie St. Louis and Alyssa Fox portray Glinda and Elphaba, respectively. Both ladies were so strong in their performances, that I spent most of the show flip-flopping my support for their two characters. The performances were just that engaging and the chemistry between the two leads was palpable. You’d be hard pressed to find a dry-eye in the house during their chilling rendition of For Good.
St. Louis’ characterization of Glinda is simply hilarious. Her comedic timing is on point; Glinda comes off as both ditzy and narcissistic, yet charming and lovable. Vocally, St. Louis definitely held her own against Fox.
In the end, however, everyone’s favorite witch managed to steal the show. Fox’s portrayal is stunning and would surely make the original Elphaba, Idina Menzel, proud. Her vocal range is jaw-dropping; not a sour note was hit all evening.
Her most show-stopping moment came at the end of first act during the climax of Defying Gravity, arguably the show’s most iconic song. Not only did Fox annihilate the entire number, but she absolutely killed the high note at the end. The kind of high note that only a diva like Christina Aguilera or Whitney Houston could hit. Fox is surely destined to become a Broadway legend in her own right.
Another pleasant surprise came from the portrayal of Fiyero, as portrayed by Ashley Parker Angel. Yes, the same Ashley Parker Angel from O-Town. Angel held his own in this show, infusing his character with a bounty of charisma. Thankfully, this show also proved that Angel can successfully carry a song without the aid of auto-tune.
Honestly, Wicked is one of the best musicals I have ever seen. In the end, it has become ICONIC.