Review: Second time around, ‘Wicked’ is just as good

Cheers greeted the cast on opening night to launch its record-breaking three-week run.

doland@idahostatesman.comApril 18, 2014 

Laurel Harris plays Elphaba in the national tour of “Wicked.” This is Harris’ first time taking on this role.

  • 'WICKED' NATIONAL TOUR COMES TO BOISE:

    Performances:

    ● 7:30 p.m. April 16

    ● 2 and 7:30 p.m. April 17

    ● 8 p.m. April 18

    ● 2 and 8 p.m. April 19

    ● 1 and 6:30 p.m. April 20

    ● 7:30 p.m. April 22-24

    ● 8 p.m. April 25

    ● 2 and 8 p.m. April 26

    ● 1 and 6:30 p.m. April 27

    ● 7:30 p.m. April 29-May 1

    ● 8 p.m. May 2

    ● 2 and 8 p.m. May 3

    ● 1 and 6:30 p.m. May 4

    Where: Morrison Center, 2201 Cesar Chavez Lane, Boise

    Cost: $55-$150

    Tickets: Boise State Tickets

The audience of more than 1,500 at the Morrison Center on April 17 was filled with repeat customers, and probably just as many first-timers.

This is the 10th anniversary of the Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman musical, "Wicked," which first visited Boise in 2011. It seems unstoppable as it continues to global success, fueled by loyal fans who tap into the story of friendship told through dynamic vocal performances and eye-popping theatrical wizardry.

The core touring company of dancers and singers, acrobats and actors, created a strong base for the production, and was peppered with outstanding moments from performers such as Wayne Schroder, who took on several roles.

That’s a great ground to build on, because this cast still is jelling, with three performers — Laurel Harris as Elphaba, Kara Lindsay as Glinda and Gene Weygandt as The Wizard — joining the company weeks ago.

Fortunately, the characters’ chemistry is written into the show, and these are deeply talented performers.

Harris brings the right mix of earnestness and wide-eyed optimism to Elphaba, and a voice that’s rich and rangy. That sets up the payoff when her character learns the truth about her world and disillusionment propels her to become the Wicked Witch.

Weygandt turned in a polished performance as The Wizard with a mix of showman and charlatan, with a twinkle of “Father Knows Best.”

They were helped out by an excellent supporting cast: Kathy Fitzgerald’s Madame Morrible was a dynamo of vocal power and comic expression; Emily Behny’s  Nessarose hit the right tones of fragility and righteous anger with a soaring soprano; Lee Slobotkin made a sweet and sympathetic Boq; understudy Jonathan Shew warmed into the role of Fiyero and offered a nice chemistry with Harris; and John Hiller reached beyond his mask to pull a few heartstrings as Dr. Dillamond.

But it was Lindsay’s Glinda who stole the show. With a voice like good champagne that bubbles on top yet hints of something deeper underneath, she showed natural comic timing, expressive physicality and wit that took her character from glitzy girlie-power to womanly strength by the end. Always looking for the good side is not a rose-colored process. It requires hard work and sacrifice, and Lindsay does it well.

In all, this production is exactly what this show is and should be — impressively entertaining and emotionally satisfying.

Dana Oland: 377-6442, Twitter: @IDS_DanaOland

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