Musical Reviews

Last Friday evening, I went with my husband to see the musical "Wicked" while we were in New York City. "Wicked" is based on the 1995 novel "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" by Gregory Maguire, and serves as a prequel of sorts to "The Wizard of Oz." The musical "Wicked" tells the story of Elphaba, the girl born with green skin who eventually becomes known as the Wicked Witch of the West who terrorizes Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz."

However, this musical will turn everything you thought you knew about the Wicked Witch of the West on its head. I won't reveal plot points, in case anyone plans on seeing it, but I will say that Elphaba isn't as she seems, has a very interesting family tree, and, as it turns out, a surprising love interest as well.

What I loved about "Wicked" was the backstory it supplies for the characters in "The Wizard of Oz." In "Wicked" you meet the Tin Man and the Scarecrow as young men, before they become the Tin Man and the Scarecrow you meet in L. Frank Baum's tale. You meet Elphaba, Glinda (who eventually becomes the Good Witch of the North), and even Nessa (Elphaba's sister, and the witch on whom Dorothy's house falls in the beginning of "The Wizard of Oz") as teenagers, and you watch as their stories and characters evolve up to the point where Baum's story picks up.

The music in "Wicked" was also incredible. My husband borrowed the soundtrack from a coworker, and I have it loaded and playing frequently on my iPod. And the vocal performances by the two leads (Shoshana Bean as Elphaba and Megan Hilty as Glinda) were amazing. These two were on stage and singing for practically the entire show, and were truly fantastic.

Rue McLanahan ("Blanche" from "The Golden Girls") played Madame Morrible, the headmistress at Elphaba and Glinda's school. Her role wasn't significant, but she did a great job with it. And Ben Vereen played the wizard.

"Wicked" is most definitely a show worth seeing! And as soon as I finish Augusten Burroughs' "Dry," I'm going to start reading Maguire's "Wicked."

We also saw "The Producers" on the Saturday night we were in the city. "The Producers" follows the comic missteps of a seasoned, but perpetual failure of a Broadway producer and an accountant-turned-Broadway producer as they attempt to cast and produce the worst musical Broadway has ever seen, in order to turn a quick buck.

While I would have LOVED to see Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in these roles, as Cara did, the two actors who played Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom did an outstanding job in their physically and vocally demanding roles. The dialogue was clever, often raunchy, and always hysterical, and the casting of most of the supporting roles was spot on, including the casting of Jai Rodriguiz (from Queer Eye) as Carmen Ghia, the flamboyant director's assistant. I've seen Jai perform on Broadway as Angel in "Rent", and regardless of the mostly pointless role he plays as the "culture guy" on Queer Eye, he is in his element on the stage.

I won't remember "The Producers" for its music (although there is one particularly hilarious and all-too-familiar scene in which Leo toils away at a desk along with other accountants, before he leaves this job to become a producer, as he sings a song entitled "Unhappy"), but instead for its intelligent and hilarious script, which has Mel Brooks' stamp all over it.

I do have to say that of all the musicals I've seen on Broadway over the years, my absolute favorite is still "Rent." I've seen it seven times in total: twice in New York, three times in Toronto, once in Buffalo, and once in my hometown. And on Wednesday, the movie version of Rent is being released, with much of the original Broadway cast appearing in their roles. I'm nervous, though, because I'm not sure how well the power and beauty of the musical will translate into movie form.

Do you have a favorite musical?

3 Responses to “Musical Reviews”

  1. # Blogger Kross-Eyed Kitty

    I liked reading about your opinion on Wicked, I would love to see it! I saw the Producers a few years ago, and must admit, did not like it so much. Last year I saw Hairspray, which I thought was hilarious! Better than Mama Mia even.
    Blue Man Group is here inToronto now, and I think that they are next on my list.  

  2. # Blogger Amy

    I am SO hoping that Wicked goes on tour somewhere near me. The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies, and I love it when authors/producers remake classics (or make prequels) with a new spin. Let me know if you like the book--it's on my list, too! I've seen most of the classic musicals in person and while they were all amazing, I think Rent is so far my favorite.  

  3. # Blogger Kristi

    Ramona-I've seen Hairspray and Mamma Mia (twice) too. Loved them both. And I've always wanted to see Blue Man Group. If you see them, you'll have to write up a review.

    Amy-It is supposed to be touring, so you'll definitely have to catch it. The Rent movie comes out tomorrow!  

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