Atlanta Art Reviews by Susan K Asher
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“Wicked” Bewitches at the Fox Theatre

2011 September 21


After selling out in record time in 2006 and 2008, triple Tony Award-winner “Wicked” is back at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. If you’ve never seen the show – it’s in its eighth year on Broadway – now’s the time to get bargain prices as orchestra seats can be had for $25 in a Fox lottery.

In this North American tour company, staged like the Broadway version, we get to see two dynamite performances by Amanda Jane Cooper (who plays the role of Glinda) and Dee Roscioli (who plays the role of Elphaba). Glinda is a spoiled, rich girl who dresses fashionably, smiles just right and flips her blonde curls to get attention. Elphaba is concerned with treating people and animals fairly, and fumes at injustice. When she juts her arms straight out in front of her, claws her hands, and cackles, she reincarnates Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch of the West. There’s not a superstar that I can think of that could have done better than these two, including the incomparable Kristien Chenowith, who originated the role of Glinda on Broadway.

Roscioli, who reprises her Broadway role as Elphaba, radiates passion in her acting and singing. She commands explosions of applause wrapped in woo-hoos and hollers from the audience when she sings “Defying Gravity,” “As Long As You’re Mine” and the hilarious “What is this Feeling (Loathing)?,” a song about two totally opposite roommates (she and Glinda) who hate each other. Her performance made me weep.

“Wicked” takes you to Oz before Dorothy enters the picture. Glinda, a popular, perky blond school girl, attends boarding school with Elphaba, a determined, green-skinned girl who is ostracized by her family and peers. The two hate each other when they meet but a close friendship forms. They travel to Emerald City to apprentice with the Wizard to learn to cast spells.

The show is spellbinding. Even my sister – who hates theater, especially musicals – loved this show. The music, set, costumes and acting bring fantasy to life. Monkeys sprout huge wings and fly, Glinda floats above Oz inside a bubble, Elphaba blasts off into space with her broom.

Wicked was nominated for 10 Tony Awards and took home three of them. The original Wicked Broadway cast recording ranked among iTunes’ Top 10 Soundtrack Albums. Composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. “Entertainment Weekly” called “Wicked” the “Best Musical of the Decade,” and the character of Elphaba ranked on the magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Characters of the Past 20 Years.

Dee Roscioli ranks on my list of the 100 Greatest Musical Performers in the past 50 years.

Come to the Fox two hours in advance of any performance to enter the Fox lottery drawing for the chance to win orchestra seats for $25 for that day’s show. “Wicked” is based on the book “Wicked: The Life and Time of the Wicked Witch of the West” (1995)  by Gregory Maguire.

“Wicked” runs through October 9 at the Fox Theatre.

Music and Lyrics, Stephen Schwartz (“Godspell,” “Pippin”). Book, Winnie Holzman. Directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello.

Cast: Justin Brill, Stefanie Brown, Collin Hanlon, Paul Slade Smith, Todd Anderson, Lauren Boyd, Megan Campanille, Catherine Charlebols, Antonette Cohen, Rick Desloge, Melanie Field, Luis Augusto Figueroa, Timothy A. Fitz-Gerald, Dominic Giudici, Napoleon W. Gladney, Brenda Hamilton, Kevin Jordan, Kelly Lafarga, Renée Lawless-Orsini, Philip Dean Lightstone, Marissa Lupp, Michael Mahany, Sterling Masters, Alli McGinnis, Kevin McMahon, Mark Myars, Christopher Russo, Adéa Michelle Sessoms, Carla Stickler, Brandon Tyler, Shanna VanDerwerker, Nicky Venditti, Mikey Winslow, Alma Cuervo, Mark Jacoby.

 

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