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

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

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Labor department director inappropriately expensed out-of-state trips, audit finds

    Jones was "Minority Outreach Coordinator" for Hutchinson's 2014 gubernatorial campaign. The governor first named him as policy director before placing him over the labor department instead in Jan. 2015, soon after taking office.
  • Lawsuit filed against ADC officials, prison chaplain convicted of sexual assault at McPherson

    A former inmate who claims she was sexually assaulted over 70 times by former McPherson Womens' Unit chaplain Kenneth Dewitt has filed a federal lawsuit against Dewitt, several staff members at the prison, and officials with the Arkansas Department of Corrections, including former director Ray Hobbs.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

Latest in Theater Reviews

  • Standout acting

    In romantic 'Bridges.'
    • Apr 21, 2016
  • Life during wartime

    The Rep updates Homer with 'An Iliad.'
    • Mar 3, 2016
  • A modern Pan

    "Peter and the Starcatcher" adds a modern flair to the Peter Pan story.
    • Jan 28, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

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 31
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation