WICKED - A first class production at the Bushnell

By Bob And Karen Isaacs

KAREN:  From the day Wicked opened on Broadway in 2003, it has been a huge success. The touring company sold out in days when it was at the Bushnell in 2005. Now, the touring production of Wicked is making a second stop in Hartford through Sept.11.

It has been well worth the wait. This is an outstanding production. Sometimes touring productions look cheap - like a poor copy of the original. This has the look and feel of a true Broadway show. The set has been been carefully adopted to the needs of tours without losing any of the opulence or effects. The cast of over 30 is aided by an orchestra of 15.

If you are among the few who don't know the plot of Wicked it is easiest to call it a prequel of The Wizard of Oz. It tells the back story of how Elphaba became the Wicked Witch of the North and how Glinda achieved her fame. It is also a story of teenage angst. The outcast teenager Elphaba who is different and troubled and the pretty blond and smug Glinda who is use to getting her own way. Perhaps it is this part of the story that particularly makes this musical so appealing to teenage girls. And for lovers of the classic film, it fills in the background. Plus, of course, just like the original novels - there is some political satire included.

Let's talk about the production at the Bushnell. The cast is superb. The night my granddaughter and I saw it - and she had been wanting to see it for years - Megan Campanile the understudy played Glinda. She was excellent - I can't imagine the actress cast in the role could have been better. Dee Roscioli played Elphaba. She has played the role on Broadway and in Chicago - in fact she has played the role more times than any other actress. It shows in an assured performance that includes humor and pathos. I don't know about others in the audience, but I like Elphaba much more than Glinda.

And the Wizard originally played by Joel Grey is now played by Mark Jacoby - who has won numerous awards in NYC for his Broadway leading man roles. He too infuses the role with humor and outstanding vocals.

The rest of the cast lives up to these three.

Now, I would not be completely honest if I did not admit that even when I saw the original Broadway cast - this is not my favorite musical. The music just doesn't appeal to me. But I am in small minority.

So, if you have never seen Wicked or if you want to see it again - call the Bushnell or go on line and get tickets.

This review was aired on WHNHU 88.7 FM and www.wnhu.net through Sept. 10

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