This week, I had the pleasure of going to Wicked: The Musical in Saskatoon with two sexy ladies, Madam Diva and MayB. Diva was my official date, because I knew that I wouldn't even have to buy her supper to get her to put out.
I had already seen the musical in London back in 2007, but when something like this comes to Saskatchewan, I think it's important to get out and support it so we'll keep getting productions like this coming to the province. That, and I'll take any excuse to go up to Saskatoon to visit Diva (see above reason). And it's truly a spectacular musical with stunning costumes, dancing, staging, singing and special effects.
I admit that when I was in London, I had no interest in seeing Wicked. I was far more intrigued by sex exhibits. But I'm glad I went, because it wasn't what I thought it would be. What I like best about the show is that it's not a fluffy musical like you would expect, especially given its connection to The Wizard of Oz.
While the theme of Oz could be summed up as "you don't need something external to make you whole - you already have it inside you," Wicked delves into:
- good versus evil ("Are people born Wicked? Or do they have Wickedness thrust upon them?" - Glinda)
- perceptions of beauty ("It's looking at things another way!" - Fiyero and Elphaba)
- friendship ("I do believe I have been changed for the better...Because I knew you I have been changed... for good." - Glinda and Elphaba)
- bullying and labelling ("A man's called a traitor, or a liberator. A rich man's a thief, or a philanthropist. Is one a crusader, or ruthless invader, it's all in which label is able to persist." - The Wizard)
- political corruption ("The true isn't a thing of fact, or reason. It's simply what everyone agrees on." - The Wizard)
- scapegoating (literally, as one of the targets is a talking goat) and ethnic cleansing ("Where I'm from, the best way to bring people together... is to give them a common enemy." - The Wizard)
For those of you not familiar, Wicked tells the untold story of the witches of Oz - the Good Witch of the North (Glinda), The Wicked Witch of the West (Elphaba) and the Wicked Witch of the East (Nessarose).
The show focuses on the unlikely friendship between Glinda and Elphaba and challenges the way in which the Wicked Witch is presented in The Wizard of Oz - perhaps she's not so evil after all.
While Wicked has been a "pop-uuuu-lar" (people who have seen it will get that reference) musical since it debuted on Broadway in 2003, the TV show Glee gave it another boost, by featuring original Broadway cast members Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, as well as two songs from the musical, "Defying Gravity" and "For Good." Having the songs top-of-mind makes it even more fun to see live.
At the performance we saw, produced by Broadway Across Canada, Elphaba was played by Anne Brummel, Glinda by Natalie Daradich, Fiyero by David Nathan Perlow, Boq by Dan Pacheco and the Wizard by Don Richard. The cast was fantastic. Having seen the London production, I can say that the touring show did a great job of maintaining the spectacle with seamless set changes, performers' talent, and special effects.
Brummel kicks some serious ass as Elphaba. Before seeing this performance, like many people, my favourite song from the musical was "Defying Gravity." Now, I have a new one - "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished." The number was literally jaw-dropping. Diva and I looked at each other in astonishment at the power and emotion Brummel poured on to the stage. In fact, we were so amazed that we forgot to make out with each other. Another friend of mine went to the matinee show the same day, where Christine Dwyer, the standby for Elphaba, performed. She said that she had never heard such a powerful voice as Dwyer's. So, you're in for an amazing show regardless of which Elphaba is on stage.
Daradich's G(a)linda ("The 'Ga' is silent") is a lot of fun. She does a great job of portraying the ditzy, self-absorbed, wanna-be witch, reminding me a bit of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. Diva and I, being singers ourselves, noted there were times her singing was flat, but it's not likely that this would jump out for the regular theatre-goer. She and Brummel play off each other very well and have some beautiful moments together.
If you get a chance to go to the Saskatoon show, or any of the performances in the North American tour, do it! Of course, cost can be an obstacle, but, fortunately, there is another option for those of us on a budget. A day-of-performance lottery for a limited number of $25 orchestra seats will be held every day of the run. Two hours before each show, you can go to the box office and have your name put into the lottery; 30 minutes later, names will be drawn for the (majorly) discounted tickets. Definitely worth a shot, n'est ce pas?
The Saskatoon performance is at TCU Place – Sid Buckwold Theatre from August 10-21, 2011, with tickets available online at www.tcutickets.ca, or by phone 306-975-7799 or 1-888-639-7770. The tour continues on to Winnipeg and then down into the States. Go here to learn when it will be coming to a city near you.
As much fun as the show was, I think the highlight of the evening was when Diva and I were walking back to the car and a group of guys walked by us and one said, "Nice boobs, ladies."* Quite pleased with the continued appeal of our 30-something mammaries, I said, "We've still got it baby. High five!" Sadly, our high five was a massive fail. So we decided to do a high boob instead.
I gave that five stars out of five. Encore!
*Diva claims the guy actually said, "Nice tits, girls." She's likely right. Funny how I changed the remark in my memory. Because "boobs" and "ladies" are waaaay more classy.