Buy Tickets to see Wicked! WICKED is currently playing on tour in Philadelphia, PA and moves to Appleton, WI

Wicked playing currently in Toronto at the Canon Theatre, 244 Victoria St. Until Sunday, Nov. 28 2010.

It’s wicked good, not wicked great.

Jackie Burns stars as Elphaba and Chandra Lee Schwartz is Glinda in a production of Wicked opening in Toronto Oct. 20, 2010

Jackie Burns stars as Elphaba and Chandra Lee Schwartz is Glinda in a production of Wicked opening in Toronto Oct. 20, 2010

The third version of this astronomical hit to play Toronto proves, in a very subtle way, that all productions are not created equal.

It’s still one hell of an entertaining evening, but the two guests I brought had interestingly different responses. One who had never seen the show before thought it was just swell as it was.

Wicked is a whole lot more complex and fascinating than it might originally seem to be. On one level it’s a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, led by two female characters who can be counted on to deliver the Twilight kind of crowd in droves.

But for those who look twice at the serious work underneath, nothing less than total commitment will make this show soar to the heavens.

The sine qua non that any Wicked has to have is an awesome Elphaba, someone who can play that lonely green outsider who makes all of our hearts ache. Mercifully, this production has it in Jackie Burns.

For vocal clarity, sheer power and emotional openness, I rank her up there with the very best of the five people I’ve seen in the role, including the original, Idina Menzel. Her Act I finale, “Defying Gravity,” remains every bit as thrilling as ever. I can offer her no higher compliment than that.

But Elphaba has an opposite in the show, the blond, beaming yet far-from-benign Glinda and here’s where we fall down. Chandra Lee Schwartz, who plays the role, has all of the Act I fun and camp. Her version of “Popular” is hysterical. But when we get to Act II, when Glinda becomes coldly, calculatingly evil, she doesn’t have the right stuff. Schwartz has also played Sharpay in High School Musical and that’s what she’s giving us here, a camp villainess.

Matters aren’t helped by this production’s Madame Morrible, Randy Danson, who treats the part as a piece of raw milk cheese that’s been allowed to ripen too soon. One recalls Carole Shelley’s razor-sharp innuendo in the role and sighs in regret.

On the positive side, Richard H. Blake is a totally hunky Fiyero, Justin Brill a sweet, tortured Boq and Stefanie Brown possibly the best Nessarose I’ve seen. She’s an amazing character, with those ruby shoes you’ll never forget and a blazing passion that I wish other actors could bottle.

One also has to praise Joe Mantello’s staging, which still looks sleek and bright and glossy and spectacular. Producer David Stone cuts no corners. This is the most “Grade A” tour you’re ever likely to see.

Though this Wicked isn’t perfect, it’s a wonderful piece of writing and production, and you don’t have to be a teenage girl to like it.

Even with a few warts, it’s well worth a visit. Buy your Wicked Toronto ON Tickets Online.
{Via TheStar.com – Wicked review}

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One Response to “Wicked Review Toronto – Good Outweighs the Bad in Wicked”

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Buy Tickets to see Wicked!


Buy Tickets to see Wicked!