‘Wicked’ bewitches audiences at Marcus Center

Aly Prouty

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  • Photo by Joan Marcus

  • Photo by Joan Marcus

  • Photo by Joan Marcus

  • Photo by Joan Marcus

  • Photo by Joan Marcus

  • Photo by Joan Marcus

Navigate Left
Navigate Right

“Wicked,” at the Marcus Center for Performing Arts, will leave your soul and imagination soaring through the sky. It runs until Nov. 15.

Set in the Land of Oz, “Wicked” tells the backstory of the characters of “The Wizard of Oz.” Audiences will learn about the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and  Wicked Witch of the East. However, the real stars of this show are Elphaba (Alyssa Fox), also known as the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda — or Galinda, as she never fails to remind people throughout the beginning of the show — (Carrie St. Louis), also known as the Good Witch of the North.

“Wicked” opens with the citizens of Oz interrogating Glinda about her past with Elphaba. While both women lead very different lives, they formed an unlikely friendship at school. Glinda is a stereotypical queen bee. She is blonde, beautiful, and everyone wants to be her friend. She may not be the brightest student, but she makes up for it in high-pitched laughter. In contrast, Elphaba is extremely intelligent, has a big heart and strongly protects her little sister, Nessarose (Liana Hunt). None of that matters to anyone else, though, because Elphaba is green and possesses some form of magic even she does not understand.

There is even more to this play than story of the friendship between Glinda and Elphaba and they’re separate lives of good and a life of evil unfold. There are strong political wars, a message against animal cruelty, lessons about staying true to oneself and the realities of love and happiness.

St. Louis embodies Glinda perfectly, showing the audience her inner airhead. Not many other people could make it work in the same way that she does. While coming off as superficial and spoiled, Glinda does have a heart that grows throughout the musical.

When Elphaba shows Glinda kindness by asking her to join her sorcery seminar, after Glinda gave her an ugly hat as a joke, Glinda feels terrible. Her obsession with her image overshadows her true feelings of compassion. She decides to join Elphaba in an embarrassing dance, which marks the start of their camaraderie. While a pivotal point in the show, the scene progressed slowly and was drawn out for longer than necessary.

Fox is extremely emotive. Her every line pulls the audience in, evoking the pain she feels when she indirectly hurts someone else. She has good intentions that are consistently misinterpreted, and she begins to believe more in her reputation than her true character. When she speaks of her parents, audiences can relate to her feelings of loss, loneliness and pity.

Fiyero (Jake Boyd), introduced as a male version of Glinda, undergoes the most change throughout the performance. He hops from school to school, blows off studying and only cares about partying and image. Upon seeing Elphaba and her caring for others, he uncovers his genuine self. He is much more than a cocky player. Boyd portrays both sides of Fiyero in interactions with different characters.

An iconic technical element of “Wicked” is the makeup by Joe Dulude II which reflects each character’s personality, specifically Elphaba’s green skin. However, the crew does more than paint a girl green. Other aesthetic elements adds to the visuals of the production. Each ensemble member has a unique complex hairstyle designed by Tom Watson. Wigs and masks are also used, and exquisite prostheses turn actors into animals.

Costumes, designed by Susan Hilferty, were very appealing to the eye. The citizens of the Emerald City were dawned with every shade of green imaginable, creating authenticity to the made-up land. Every ensemble member had an array of costumes that enhanced the tone of dance numbers. Glinda was covered in glitter, while Elphaba was primarily in dark colors. However, a rainbow of colors discreetly woven into her black dress caught the lights. Lighting by Kenneth Posner was complex and appropriate, with obvious consideration for the costume designs. In the close of the first act, when Fox gives a show-stopping performance of “Defying Gravity,” the stage glows around her. The smoke, spotlights and rays create a feeling that she truly is flying and there is incredible turbulence down below. The strong red lighting used at various scenes added a sense of intensity and danger at more than appropriate times.

Scenic design by Eugene Lee was initially intriguing. The dragon and glowing map immediately catch the eyes of the audience upon entering the theater. Throughout the performance, the active wizard head, crumbling house, classrooms and sparkling Emerald City added to the show. Backdrops and secret entrances and exits were equally well done.

Every detail of “Wicked” has been beautifully planned and executed. The work that has gone into this production is evident and the talent is overwhelming. Audiences will feel many emotions, from joy to sorrow, excitement and despair, and everything in between. Almost anyone is sure to find a personal connection to one of the characters or plots and get lost in the magic. Overall, “Wicked” is a can’t-miss production. Fox and St. Louis get to the hearts of each witch, proving that they are not really all that wicked after all.

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