Good news! Wicked has returned to Orange County! On Tuesday night, the cast of the musical phenomenon received a much deserved standing ovation at The Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, CA. This time, The Munchkinland Tour flies into town to retell the story of the Witches of Oz. Having only seen the 1st National Tour (aka, The Emerald City Tour) before, I was excited to see if there were any differences between the two productions that ran simultaneously across the country, before The Emerald City Tour ended its run last March. The short answer-No!
The show opens with Glinda the Good (Amanda Jane Cooper) reassuring the citizens of Oz, that the Wicked Witch of the West was dead. When one of the Ozians asks Glinda about her friendship with the Witch, she takes us back to where their paths first crossed…at dear, old Shiz.
Elphaba (Emily Koch) is also a student at Shiz University, however, she is sent to care for her wheelchair-bound sister, Nessarose (Megan Masako Haley). We soon discover that Elphaba possesses some unique powers. The headmistress of Shiz, Madame Morrible (Wendy Worthingt0n) wastes no time teaching Elphaba sorcery as her natural talents may prove useful to the Wizard of Oz (Stuart Zagnit).
Meanwhile, Glinda falls for another new student, a troubled-prince named Fiyero (Jake Boyd). They seem to hit it off at first but things change when he starts to develop feelings for someone else.
Back at school, Dr. Dillamond (Chad Jennings) is the last Animal professor at Shiz. He confides in Elphaba that something bad is happening in Oz. All the Animals are losing their powers of speech. Elphaba is certain the Wizard will be able to help them.
Elphaba and Glinda travel to The Emerald City to meet the Wizard, however, they soon discover he isn’t exactly as great nor powerful as once thought. In fact, he has no powers at all.
Elphaba decides to leave but the Wizard sends his palace guards to capture her. She’s then forced to use a levitation spell to fly high and escape. Glinda, on the other hand chooses to partner with the Wizard and become a public official of Oz.
By the end of the show, we begin to wonder how good, Glinda the Good really was. After all, she did play a role in certain catastrophic events in Oz, alongside the Wizard and Madame Morrible.
Amanda Jane Cooper reprises her role as Glinda the Good. She was previously in the 1st National Tour back in 2011. Her bubbly antics and “oz-isms” make watching her on stage very entertaining. For me, Cooper really shines in the number “Thank Goodness,” where she portrays great vulnerability as her characters seemingly “perfect” life start to unravel.
Emily Koch, who plays Elphaba is also no stranger to this show. She came straight from the Broadway production as Elphaba’s standby. Koch seems to play the character a little less cynical and more of a tomboy. Some of her performance highlights include “No Good Deed” and of course “Defying Gravity.”
Jake Boyd joins the cast as the arrogant and shallow, Fiyero. Without a doubt, Boyd has been my favorite Fiyero to date. He actually makes the choreography in the beginning of “Dancing Through Life” look cool! Let’s not forget about his voice either. Luckily, we get to hear him belt in the duet “As Long As You’re Mine.”
The songs, written and composed by Stephen Schwartz have become so popular (no pun intended) and iconic. From the opening number “No One Mourns The Wicked” to “The Finale-For Good (Reprise)” the cast performs each song beautifully. Also, a big applause to the orchestra for their hard work. I love the musical arrangements on this tour, which include heavier use of the electric guitar in some songs.
It’s no surprise why Wicked has recently become the 10th-longest running Broadway show of all time. The show opened back in 2003 and the story still remains relevant today. Wicked is definitely one of my personal favorites, which is why I take the journey back to Oz, time and time again.
Wicked is playing at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts until March 6, 2016. To purchase tickets contact the box office at (714) 556-2787 or visit their website at http://www.scfta.org.