As Short & Sweet theater critic for the day, Sarah Pouls attended the opening night of Wicked to provide Daily Herald readers with the audience perspective of the show. Pouls, a first year teacher and recent Augustana College graduate, was able to draw upon her background as a theater minor to critique the performance.
Having seen the show in a previous run, Pouls is able to compare this tenth anniversary cast with an earlier cast: "I loved seeing the transition and the growth." Pouls was drawn in to the story and characters, and plans to use this experience as a lesson in her high school class.
See below for a review by Short & Sweet host, Diana Martinez.
By Diana Martinez
I had the absolute pleasure of seeing the opening night performance of Wicked at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago on Friday, November 1.
I first saw Wicked on Broadway when it opened in 2003, with the original star-studded cast, and again in Chicago in 2005 at the start of the national tour. But never, have I ever enjoyed this show more than the current touring production, which has arrived in town just as the Broadway production celebrates its 10th anniversary. This cast is passionate, funny and committed. They are truly "Wicked Good."
The first time you see Wicked is like discovering a number of revealing secrets you never knew about an "old friend." You are first drawn in by the clever wit of the writing and the charming characters, and then are hooked by the "Ah ha moments" and callbacks to The Wizard of Oz. Most importantly, we learn there was more to the story, and that maybe the "Witch" wasn't really so "Wicked" after all.
Watching this most recent production, I discovered even more. There are so many social themes ranging from bullying, prejudice, and misuse of power and position, which resonate so loudly in our society today. The news constantly reminds us of people who were used as political scapegoats, or are so bullied and oppressed that they retaliate and act out in violence or anger. The shows poses the question, "are people born wicked or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?" and truly challenges us to examine our role when these tragedies occur.
This cast offered a new perspective on the theme of the power of friendship, and the choices and betrayal that define who we are. No matter how much we learn to love Glinda "the Good," there is a part of us that resents her for choosing the path of power, instead of standing up for what was right. But as my guest, Dan Porter, so wisely pointed out, the message that truly prevails is that no matter how many trials and tribulations a true friendship goes through, you are "changed for the better" for having known that person.
The opening night audience was absolutely riveted thanks this amazing cast. These are veteran actors committed to these characters and relationships. They deliver nuances, themes, and moments I've never seen before. This production is beautifully sung, exquisitely staged, and performed with an unbelievable passion and integrity rarely seen. Jenn Gambatese (Glinda) and Alison Luff (Elphaba) deserve kudos for their magical performances and amazing chemistry. They consistently deliver electrifying moments of excitement, humor and sadness with a wave of their proverbial "wands."
Wicked is appropriate for all ages and runs 2 hours and 45 minutes with one intermission. Do yourself a favor and go see the show at the Oriental Theatre while it's here, now through December 21. You'll instantly be reminded why this show has become such a classic in just 10 years' time.