This group is for members of Ryan Donovan’s discussion sections in Hunter College’s Spring 2015 Introduction to Theatre course.
Wicked as reviewed by Dimitri Gallard
- March 23, 2015 at 7:02 am #1844
THEA 101 1D05
1 March 2015
25 February 2015
The Gershwin Theatre
<p style=”text-align: center;”>Wicked evil becomes good</p>
The Musical Wicked features a story that differs from the original The Wizard of Oz, in which the Witches become the protagonist of story instead of the original story of Dorothy. The musical acts as both a prequel and a sequel to the original Wizard of Oz story. In addition, it provides a back story for various characters and sets a distinguishing mark between the ideas of good versus evil. The musicals main protagonist of Glinda (the good witch) and Elphaba (the wicked witch) ties together two completely opposing viewpoints, rivalry, and personal objectives, to mend the idea of what is truly “good” and truly “evil”. To accomplish this unique mend of ideals, Wicked utilizes outstanding vocals and music, realistic set design, and special effects, to captivate the audience and provide a unique storyline like no other.
Theatre is live, for it requires not only a live performance, but the feeling of being immersed in a story which is unfolding before one’s eyes. Essentially, live performance stimulates the senses unlike that of a movie. Wicked sets the bar high with a cast that has the vocals of the Greek Gods and Goddesses. The vocals create an atmosphere of neutrality as characters with different “good and evil” intentions interact with each other. Almost immediately in the first act, when Glinda the good witch appears and informs the towns people of the death of Elphaba the wicked witch, Glinda breaks out into a song with a voice that moves the entire theatre. In fact, there is usually a song sang roughly every 15-20 minutes. The vocals of the actors are so good that it is impossible to become distracted by other audience members or forget that you’re watching a play. It keeps the audience engaged at all times.
To compliment vocals, Wicked utilizes an orchestra that is just as distinctive and impressive as the vocals. The music thunders through the theatre, adding exquisite sound and rhythm to each song performed. The music reemphasizes the live quality of the musical because it moves the audience and drives emotion. For instance, in Wicked there is a scene in which Glinda and Elphaba have a crush on their classmate Fiyero. However, although Elphaba is portrayed as being an “evil” character with goolish green skin, she begins singing with music that produces a feeling of empathy for the character as she chooses to not ruin the relationship Galinda has with Fiyero. It is the music that creates the feeling of empathy by utilizing the low pitch and tone of the string instrument family, that the theme of “good and evil” begin to become apparent and identifies with the audience.
Immersing of the audience is essential for a theatre production to accomplish. By immersing the audience, it shows the original roots of storytelling, as well as, showing the trait of theatre being empirical. The second the audience enters the Gershwin Theatre, the audience is brought into the World of Oz. The set design, including the costumes and props, are highly detailed. While viewing Wicked, the characters did not seem stiff in their costumes, and the props shifted, bringing each scene to a new location. The constantly shifting set design causes the audience to feel that they are going through time in the World of Oz along with the characters. In addition, the fluid motion of each character along with change in the time of setting per scene, gives the illusion of realism. Its highly easy for the audience to forget they’re in the Gershwin Theatre in lower Manhattan, and feel as though they’re really about to take off on a broom with Elphaba.
In Wicked, Elphaba really does take flight on a broom as she flies away as she escapes palace guards who wrongfully accuses her of being “evil”. This scene closes the first act and is essentially the climax of the musical. The actor levitates and flies away without any noticeable strings or safety equipment on. This alludes to the special effects that were presented. Elphaba taking flight was more magical, than a David Blaine performance. Elphaba’s broom stick levitating on its own was also jaw dropping. Wicked bring the magic of witches before the eyes of a bewildered audience.
Before entering Wicked, majority of the audience is under the impression that the green witch Elphaba, is evil and Glinda is opposite with her angelic white garments. However, through the use of outstanding vocals, exquisite set design, and jaw dropping special effects, it becomes apparent who the true deceptive character is. Wicked teaches that looks can be deceiving and cunning, and that through differences, people can come together for a common cause. It was not difficult to see this theme in the musical immediately and also was not difficult to understand what sets Wicked apart from other Broadway musicals. Through differences, people are the same and it is possible to set aside stereotypes to work on a common good. I would recommend Wicked to any playgoer who seeks to see a circular play structure, that is filled with an array of emotions and surprises. Wicked teaches to look beyond appearance because there’s more that always meets the eye
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