Wicked has lots in it that's good, but one major component, the music, is not.
Back in town, and with its run extended to New Year's Eve, this touring prequel to The Wizard Of Oz, adapted by Winnie Holzman from Gregory Maguire 's novel, is a clever take on familiar material. At its centre are Galinda (later Glinda) and Elphaba (later the Wicked Witch of the West), roomies at an Oz university who hate each other at first glare.
Their on again, off again friendship is at the heart of the story. Shoshana Bean 's Elphaba and Megan Hilty 's Galinda capture the pair's blend of rivalry and admiration, even if the emotional roller coaster takes a while to get going. Bean has a fine dry humour, while Hilty does a good job of suggesting Galinda's growing humanity. They're fine singers, too, though Bean occasionally has trouble with top notes.
Alma Cuervo is perfect as Madame Morrible, a power behind the throne who wears a deadly, cold grin as she rewrites history. Cliffton Hall 's Fiyero does well as a shallow playboy who learns what's really worthwhile in Oz.
There's even a political subtext about accepting those who are different, both the green-skinned Elphaba and the articulate, intelligent animals who are herded into an undesirable position in society.
Directed by Joe Mantello , with musical staging by Wayne Cilento , the production is bright and fancy. Wonderful costumes by Susan Hilferty suggest figures out of Dickens enchanted by a magic wand, and Eugene Lee 's mechanical set is striking.
What lets us down is Stephen Schwartz 's forgettable, pop-like score, with its mostly obvious wait-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop lyrics. An exception is Galinda's satiric Popular, in which she shows her Valley girl roots and demonstrates that she knows how to send herself up.
See Continuing, page 103.