Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

April 28, 2024

Review: The Bushnell, "Wicked"

The Bushnell, Hartford, CT
through May 12, 2024
by Suzanne Wells

"Wicked" is a playfully, mischievous musical presentation at the Bushnell in Hartford, Connecticut. 

Photo by Joan Marcus
Through a dizzying myriad of themes, including nature versus nurture, the harm of classism, the detriment of excluding those who are different, and the power of hope, kindness, and love, "Wicked" retells the story of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". Beginning with the death of the Wicked Witch of the West, and in keeping with all funeral celebrations, curiosity brings about the story of the bemoaned Witch's life, her hopes and dreams, her hardships, her friendships, her enemies, and her romances, as told by her best friend, Glinda.

Glinda, played by Celia Hottenstein, is a popular, perky, effervescent character who “seems” to get everything she wants in life. Hottenstein’s comedic timing and vocal range enhances the character's outrageous audaciousness and truly shines in her rendition of “Popular.”

Olivia Valli’s dramatization of Elphaba a/k/a The Wicked Witch of the West, as an in-your-face, termagant forced into being the scapegoat despite her good intentions is the perfect counterpoint to Glinda’s flighty vivaciousness. Valli’s renditions of “Defying Gravity” and “No Good Deed” are breathtaking for both the artist and the audience.

The brusque, productive manner of Kathy Fitzgerald of Madame Morrible; and Tom McGowan's creation of the charming Wizard, are spectacular as the anti-heroes. Boise Holmes’ portrayal of Doctor Dillamond is emotionally moving.

As for the atmosphere, it’s definitely not Kansas. The scenery is a medley of vibrant colors making up poppy fields and the yellow brick road. The Emerald City is dazzlingly vibrant enhanced by the contrast of metallic gears framing the stage.  A variety of dancing from simple box steps to complicated ribbon and acrobatic routines add to the enchantment. The costumes, a mixture of wigs, colors, and textures, complete the bizarre elements of Oz, thus creating a world where everyone is different, and ultimately the same.

"Wicked" offers a multitude of sights, sounds, and emotions; one might have to see it more than once, to take it all in.