Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 7, 2014


The Bushnell, Hartford, CT
through November 25, 2014
by Walt Haggerty

“Wicked,” with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman, has become one of those modern phenomena – a Broadway musical that just runs forever. Currently in its tenth year on Broadway, “Wicked” is making a return visit to Hartford, certain to achieve another sell-out run, attracting both new and repeat enthusiastic fans.

Based on a novel by Gregory Maguire, the story relates the pre-Dorothy origins of the “Wizard of Oz” good witch Glinda (pronounced Ga-linda most of the time) and not-so-good witch Elphaba. Key to the plot is the audience's discovery of the women's personalities. Staged as a spectacular production, complete with flying monkeys, “Wicked” creates an electrifying evening of theatre, no matter how many times it is seen, and this production ranks with the best.

In the pivotal roles of Elphaba and Glinda, Laurel Harris and Kara Lindsay, respectively, are impeccable, with Harris delivering a complex characterization confirming Kermit the Frog’s conclusion, that “it’s not easy being green.” On the other hand, Lindsay eagerly shares her appreciation of, and entitlement to, being “Popular,” one of several show-stoppers distributed generously, like gems, throughout the score. Another special moment occurs in Act II, as Elphaba and Fiero sing “As Long As You’re Mine.”

The entire cast shines in their execution of a series of demanding characterizations. Among the most memorable are Matt Shingledecker as Fiero, the object of both Glinda and Elphaba’s affections. Kathy Fitzgerald’s Madame Morrible is the personification of evil, and Jenny Fellner is a tenderly moving Nessarose. As the Wizard, Wayne Schroder’s performance of “Wonderful” is introduced as a welcome touch of old-time vaudeville at precisely the right moment.

This touring production of “Wicked” matches the Broadway original in every way, from its amazing scenery and gorgeous costumes to an enthusiastic and highly talented cast giving their all as though each performance is opening night. “Wicked” also delivers a message that is not limited to children.