Is it possible I've seen "Wicked", currently playing at the Paramount Theatre, too many times? It's not like I'm even into the double digits here having only seen it three times. But even with those three, has it lost its luster or have I become jaded. The dragon still roars, the monkeys still cavort and the green girl still flies into the rafters. So why was I not as wowed by this production as others? I'm going to have to say (at least in Act One) the energy just wasn't there. They picked it up in Act Two but in Act One there seemed to be a lot of motion going through.
But let's talk about the show itself for a brief moment. It's still an incredible show from the brilliance that is Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman. Based on the book from Gregory Maguire, "Wicked" (as if there is anyone out there who doesn't know the story) takes a look at the lives of Elphaba and Galinda, the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the North from the Wizard of Oz, before Dorothy dropped in. Was the Wicked Witch always so Wicked? Was Glinda the Good always so good and what happened to the Ga in her name? These are not the characters you think you know.
And beyond the familiar and iconic characters, Schwartz, Holzman and Maguire have created a beautiful story about friendship between two very different strong women. And it's that relationship that resonates with so many people making this a juggernaut of a show.
But even as much of a juggernaut as it is, the current production at the Paramount just felt a little tired. The voices were still there and amazing. Dee Riscioli as Elphaba and Patti Murin as Glinda have the pipes to back up these amazing roles. Both ladies have taken these iconic roles and made them their own straying as far from the originals as one might dare. Riscioli is a little more subdued and subtle an Elphaba than I've seen yet still manages a nice arc for her character. And Murin goes beyond spoiled little rich girl and almost into dork, which is a refreshing change and also shows off the growth of her character. Cliffton Hall is dashing and dreamy as the Prince Fiyero in the middle of this love triangle. Kim Zimmer and Tom McGowan are equal parts fun and evil as the scheming Madame Morrible and The Wizard. Clifton Davis is wonderfully thoughtful as the tragic Dr. Dillamond. And Justin Brill and Demaree Hill are great as the misguided lovers Boq and Nessarose.
Yes, all the elements were there and it was still a great show it just wasn't a GREAT show. Am I jaded? Have they been on tour too long? Was it an off night? Whatever the reason, even a passable production of "Wicked" is better than most anything else out there. And for those that weren't jaded and maybe seeing it for the first time, I could see that the wonder and magic was still there in their eyes as we were all leaving the theater. So I'm starting to think, it's just me.
"Wicked" performs at the Paramount Theatre through November 17th. For tickets or information contact the Seattle Theatre Group box office at 877-784-4849 or visit them online at www.stgpresents.org.
Photo credit: Joan Marcus