The Secret Lives of Witches; Musical Is Wicked Good Fun


A lot happened in Oz before little Dorothy and Toto came along.

That’s the premise of Wicked, the blockbuster musical prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Based on the best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire, Wicked tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch. Back before they had such descriptive monikers, the two were unlikely college roommates—Elphaba, the shy green girl, and Galinda, the popular blonde. The friendship the coeds form is the basis of a story that is not only original but details the iconography of The Wizard of Oz.

At its heart, Wicked is a show about seeing things in another way, a common refrain of dialogue between Elphaba and her beau, Fiyero, played with dashing fire by Richard H. Blake. Wicked is also unique in that four of the lead characters undergo a substantial character arc, an evolution that typically happens to a single character in a story.

Performers in touring Broadway musicals, especially a show as popular as Wicked, don’t really get a chance to create a character—they’re on the hook to satisfy the expectations of a mass audience by duplicating what the originator of that role has already done. That said, Chandra Lee Schwartz is effervescently perky as Glinda, and Donna Vivino is fittingly moody as Elphaba. The two have real chemistry and plenty of vocal power to pull off the show’s demanding numbers. Vivino makes the walls of the Arsht rumble with her second act stunner “No Good Deed,” while Schwartz is perfect in the comedic gem “Popular.”

Both leads nail Wicked’s signature song, the first act curtain number, “Defying Gravity.” No matter how many times you’ve seen show, the moment when Elphaba finds her power and rises above the stage is a thrilling piece of theatrical awesomeness.

Richard Kline, best known as Larry on “Three’s Company,” gives a moving performance as The Wizard, while Randy Danson captures the ultimate spin doctor in Madame Morrible.

Wicked is a spectacle, and the production fills the Arsht with lavish costumes,scenery and special effects. It’s a fun romp down the Yellow Brick Road.