Favorite

'Wicked' 

Nov. 5, Robinson Center Music Hall

click to enlarge theater_review1-1.jpg

Before the orchestra hit the first note in the musical "Wicked" at the Robinson Center Musical Hall, I paused to note the triumph for Central Arkansas's theater scene. Here audiences were packed to the gills for the much-anticipated prequel to "The Wizard of Oz" and mere blocks away Arkansas Repertory Theatre crowds were being dazzled by native son Avery Clark's lead bow in "Hamlet." There were also shows going on at the Weekend Theater, Murry's Dinner Playhouse and elsewhere. It isn't always this active, but the idea that Arkansans can only see great shows by hopping on a plane to New York City surely took a big hit.

But let's fly back to "Wicked," which arrived with its "must see" status fixed permanently on its black witch's cap. Celebrity Attractions booked the show for two weeks — a huge bet on demand — and, if word of mouth is as golden as marketers believe it is, then they'll walk away winners. This "Wicked," bolstered by lead performances of Vicki Noon as Elphaba and Natalie Daradich as Glinda, is everything a huge musical should be — tuneful, funny, compelling, fantastical, glittery and odd. Musicals strain at credulity to begin with and the story in "Wicked" is one that makes your head hurt if you think about it too much. But the bottom line is if you are made to care about what comes next then everything else will take care if itself.

And you do care about the fate of the two girls who will eventually become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch. "Wicked," with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman, works best when exploring the relationship between the two who begin as enemies and end as friends. The highlight is the school dorm room scene where Daradich, playing the blonde, self-absorbed Glinda to the hilt, teaches Elphaba, born with the scream-inducing green skin, to be "Popular." Daradich struts and faints and pulls out every laugh imaginable.

As Elphaba, Noon is the central figure in "Wicked" and, as such, has the showstopping numbers such as "Defying Gravity," which she belts out with wicked power. The convoluted part of the story has Elphaba taking on the Wizard of Oz (Don Amendolia) over animal rights — or, that is, for the rights of animals to speak — and those scenes don't have the appeal of the others. Still, "Wicked" is smart in the way it consistently works in quotes and totems such as the broomstick from "The Wizard of Oz."

On many occasions the touring shows that pull into Robinson have young, uneven casts. That isn't the case with this "Wicked." The large cast is strong across the board. The set, which often looks like the inside of a moving clock and is packed with special effects (note the big, flying dragon perched above the stage), the lights and costumes are dazzlers. I doubt many will feel cheated out of the money plunked down for tickets. And when you factor in the cost of not buying a ticket to NYC, "Wicked" must surely be seen as a bargain.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Werner Trieschmann

  • 'Disfarmer': behind the camera

    The strange case of Arkansas photographer Disfarmer, subject of a new play opening this weekend.
    • Sep 25, 2014
  • Live Review: Eric Church and Dwight Yoakam at Verizon

    Apparently Dwight Yoakam’s acting career is sufficiently slack enough that Friday night saw him opening for bro-country kingpin Eric Church at Verizon Arena. Hollywood is taking Yoakam in small enough doses (he has a recurring part on CBS’s “Under the Dome”) that he can lend his considerable talents to country music, which currently can use any kind of flavor it can get.
    • Sep 15, 2014
  • Musical 'Shrek' succeeds, mostly

    If light family entertainment is your speed.
    • Nov 2, 2011
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • An uneven 'Macbeth'

    Michael Stewart Allen as Macbeth carries the play.
    • Sep 17, 2015

Most Shared

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
  • Art bull

    "God, I hate art," my late friend The Doctor used to say.
  • Not justice

    The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
  • Judge Griffen writes about morality, Christian values and executions

    Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who blogs at Justice is a verb!, sends along a new post this morning.
  • The Ledell Lee execution thread

    Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.

Latest in Theater Reviews

Visit Arkansas

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Event Calendar

« »

April

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30  
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation