Monday, March 8, 2010

Arsht Center: Wicked (5 reviews)

The National Tour of Wicked opened at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on March 3, 2010.
Long before that girl from Kansas arrives in Munchkinland, two girls meet in the land of Oz. One—born with emerald green skin—is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular. How these two grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch makes for "the most complete and completely satisfying new musical in a long time"(USA Today).
Blake French reviewed for
Expertly directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello, Wicked never misses a beat. Although whimsical and amusing, the production’s serious themes of friendship, social acceptance, romance, revenge are fully realized.
Set designer Eugene Lee and costume designer Susan Hilferty--both Tony Award winners--create a memorable array of colorful images on stage that tickle the imagination and stir the senses.
Given this and the unforgettable music, top-notch performances, and wickedly entertaining storyline (pun intended), Broadway Across America’s Miami production of Wicked is a must-see event.
Gee, Blake, if you liked the performances, you ought to have reviewed those, too.

Mary Damiano reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
...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.
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.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Wicked continues to deliver, in different ways, for both young audiences and grown-ups -- and I say this as someone who has seen the show five times.
...all the spectacle in the world -- and Wicked is overflowing with it, from Eugene Lee's clock-inspired sets to Susan Hilferty's quirkily clever costumes to Kenneth Posner's bold lighting -- would count for little if the performers didn't artfully deliver the story. The touring cast does, particularly the two leading women.

Donna Vivino gets all of Elphaba's prickly anger and her more subtle vulnerability, and both she and her vocals soar on the dazzling number that ends the first act, Defying Gravity. Chandra Lee Schwartz has just the right light comedic touch for Glinda, which makes all the difference in a character that can either be insufferably self-absorbed or endearingly ripe for greater self-awareness (Schwartz's Glinda is the latter).
...overall, this is still one wicked good musical.
Beau Higgins reviewed for
WICKED the musical, which opened at the Arsht Wednesday night, is superior. In fact WICKED is one of the great achievements of the musical theater.
Director Joe Mantello deserves the key to Emerald City... Under his steady hand, all the elements come together, and they work. They work better than any musical has before.
I guess it's safe to say that Beau liked it.
Oscar winner Stephen Schwartz has provided music and lyrics that are majestically perfect.
EuGene Lee's settings are remarkable, Susan Hilferty's costumes are fascinating and surprising and the proceedings are bathed in the award winning lighting of a master named Kenneth Posner. Every professional involved with WICKED is at the top of their game.
...Chandra Lee Schwartz as Glinda and Donna Vivino as Elphaba bring new heights to the word marvelous. Ms. Schwartz as Glinda is simply glorious. She is playful, funny, and heavenly voiced. She is just great. It's the character of Elphaba who gets the best songs and the rock star moments. Ms. Vivino did not need her flying broom to soar above the cheer of the crowd. She had soared into our hearts long before.
The Sun-Sentinel couldn't be bothered to send a proper theatre critic, so they sent the fashion editor:
The girl-power prequel to "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" hits some theatrical moments with such a gloved smack that the room is spellbound.

No cellophane crinkling.

No plastic cup rolling under the seats.

No talking.

No hacking.
I don't know why I still bother reading the Sun-Sentinel: it's obvious they don't give a shit, the way they keep sending out this incompetent hack. It's an insult to the theatre community.

Wicked plays at the Arsht Center through March 31.

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