There is so much to love about this show, not the least of which is Lindsay's instinctively hilarious take on the kind-hearted, grammar challenged Glinda. Her body movements and personal choices are unparalleled in their delivery, sending continuous waves of laughter through the audience. In the hands of someone less talented the role of this privileged, self-focused girl might come off as annoying, but Lindsay not only avoids that entirely, she develops her into one of the most lovable characters you will ever meet on stage.
Offsetting Lindsay is the equally brilliant Harris who embraces the role of Elphaba with a delicious blend of intelligence and humour. Never once delving too deep into her character's wrath to detach your compassion, she finds that golden middle-ground where you love her, hate her, and redeem her all at the same time.
There are a great deal of comedic extras in this production, which are a welcomed addition to the original show and brilliantly orchestrated.
The casting of the two leads could not have been better. The coupling of Lindsay's soprano voice with Harris's alto, is breathtaking. When Harris sang, “The Wizard and I,” the house erupted with applause, and later when she and Lindsay sang, “Defying Gravity,” the ear-piercing screams were so powerful you would have thought it was the finale and not just the last song before the intermission.
When the volume settled to a voice-discernible level, voices resounded in praise: words like, amazing, and astounding were passed around freely.
There were a couple of misguided or perhaps misplayed sections in the show, which did not actually deter from the performance but were simply noticeably inconsistent with what appeared to be the intention. One such spot came with the introduction of Fiyero (Matt Shingledecker). While the dialogue suggested he was a rebel and a womanizer, his comical posturing and dance sequence drew uncontrolled giggles from the audience. Shingledecker is charming as the malleable Fiyero and a hilarious and eclectic blend of naiveté and enlightenment.
Wicked is kind of a Behind the Scenes of The Wizard of Oz where we discover that Elphaba is not really wicked at all: she was simply doing what she could to make things better. When a young cub is caged and suppressed she attempts to rescue it, with unfortunate results. When her sister destroys the heart of a young man in an attempt to control him, Elphaba tries to repair the damage, again with disastrous results. Elphaba, in an attempt to protect the man she loves, well, you get where this is going.
It is interesting to note that love is at the core of the all the women's undoing. When Elphaba fails to save the things she loves, she then becomes a wicked witch. Her younger sister, when she fails to win over the man she loves, also becomes a wicked witch. Even Glinda, when she feels she is losing the man she loves, releases a cyclone of redemption and subsequently, if only temporarily, becomes a wicked witch. And it is not until Elphaba finally falls in love that she truly, “feels wicked.”
Magic spells, music, and mayhem. Glorious set design, sound design, and spectacular costumes. Wicked has it all and then some. Opening night saw a standing ovation that began before the lights came up! Bring the entire family!
Wicked runs until June 29 at the Queen Elizabeth theatre. Click here for a link to tickets.