We spent the weekend in Chicago which is very cool no matter what; I love Chicago. As we were walking through the theatre district we decided to stop in at Borders and enter the drawing for Wicked tickets. The show was sold out, but 2 hours before every show they draw names for 20 tickets. Well, my name was the next to last one called! I never win anything like that, but we got 2 tickets in row B for $50. These seats would normally have cost us $170.
The show was good. I liked the story and the music. The performances were super across the board, with many of the Broadway and Nat’l Touring cast now in Chicago. My only tiny qualm with the show was its pacing through transitions. Now some of this is the nature of musical theatre, not one of my favorite genres. When musicals are good, they’re usually very, very good–then there’s the rest of the dreck.
Musical theatre is quite often about doing numbers and not about treating the story as an uninterrupted journey. The story will be going along and we have a couple numbers, and then WHAMMO! Stop for applause. Okay, now go on. STOP for applause. Get going again. In this regard, American Musical Theatre has a lot in common with the State of the Union Address–not a good thing.
It seemed like every number had a “stop for applause” 8 measures written into it. And occasionally scenes would stagger into existence, only to find their feet a few beats later. This all seems too critical as I read it. I don’t mean to imply that the show wasn’t good. Each scene started off beautifully and got better. The performances were absolutely good enough to receive ovations every time. It’s just that musical theatre often seems inorganic to me, removing itself slightly from the audience instead of making them a part of itself.
I would still recommend, highly, seeing this show: on tour, in Chicago, LA, or on Broadway. It has spectacle without being about spectacle. It has fun. It has lessons. It has great characters. Having not seen any of the other casts currently doing the show, I would recommend the Chicago show if only to see Dee Roscioli in the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch. She, even above the rest of the outstanding cast, was truly spectacular.