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"WICKED"
Bewitches the audience

By Iride Aparicio

Photos by: Joan Marcus

EMMA HUNTON as Elphaba in WICKED
EMMA HUNTON as Elphaba in WICKED

SAN JOSÉ, CA – As the colossal silver dragon flashing its red eyes, flaps its wings over the proscenium of the theatre at the Center for the Performing Arts in San José, Glinda, “The good Witch” singing “No One Mourns the Wicked” standing in a metallic bubble, descends on the stage. “It is good to see me, isn’t it?” she tells the denizen from the City of Oz before informing them that a “female child” dropped a bucket of water on the witch of the West, and that "The Wicked Witch" is dead.

All rejoice and join her in song. As Glinda is about to go, however, the simple question of “Were you friends?,” asked to her by one of the men, begins her narrative about the birth of a green baby in the City of Oz, located somewhere over the rainbow. Oz is a magical place ruled by a “Wonderful Wizard” and populated by little people, called Munchkins, flying monkeys, talking animals and witches. But the place has problems, and when Elphaba discovers them, she gets in deep trouble.

“WICKED: The Untold Story of the Witches of OZ” as the musical (with music and lyric by STEPHEN SCHWARTZ  and book by WINNIE HOlZMAN)  is called,”  is the story of two witches: Glinda, the good witch of the North and Elphaba (RAVER-LAMPMAN)  the “Wicked Witch of the West.” The fairy tale is presented with enjoyable songs, costumes galore, and an engrossing plot of hatred and love.

CHANDRA LEE SCHWARTS  as Glind de “Good Witch
        CHANDRA LEE SCHWARTS  as Glinda The “Good Witch”

As told in  “WICKED,” the story starts before Dorothy arrives in Oz and continues after Dorothy’s arrival. It  includes some references to the l939 Film “The Wizard of Oz” and to L. Frank Baum’s classic book written in l900. But in the musical, we do not see Dorothy.

FIYERO (NICK ADAMSThe principal characters in "WICKED" are: Glinda (CHANDRA LEE SCHWARTS, the “Good Witch.”  Elphaba, (who was played by “Standby” EMMY RAVER-LAMPMAN) “The wicked witch of the West.” Her parents, briefly seen at the beginning, Her sister Nessarose (JENNIE FLORKOWSKI) her boyfriend boq (ETAI BENSHLOMO)  The Wizard (TIM KASURKINSKY) Dr. Dillamond (TOM FLYNN) Madame Morrible (ALISON FRASER) and FIYERO (NICK ADAMS (pictured left) a Winkie prince that sets both witches hearts on fire when he arrives in the school.

Being green-skinned is repulsive to some people. specially when the green skin is on a baby girl. Yet Elphaba, ( RAVER-LAMPMAN) was born green because she was conceived during an affair between the Munchkin’s Governor’s wife and a mysterious stranger with a bottle of green elixir. So, not only because of the color of her skin, but because to avoid another “green Baby” her father gave his wife milk-flowers to prevent her second child from being green, and the flowers caused Nessarose to be born prematurely, and in need of a a wheel chair and her mother to die, Elphaba is hated by her father.

The story begins when she is sent to Shiz University to care for her sister and she is placed in the same room with Glinda (as she first called herself) a beautiful shallow girl who loathes her from the moment she sees her and tries to makes fun of her.

But Elphaba’s “magic talents” gains the attention to Madame Morrible (FRASER) a teacher, and get invited to go to Emerald City to see the Wizard (KASURINSKY). The story begins with what  happens during this trip.

Produced by Broadway San Jose, a Netherlander Presentation, as the last show of its 2013-2014 Season and the first show of their 2014-2015 Season, beginning on its third week, WICKED, Based on Gregory McGuire’s novel, “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” has been called “The defining musical of the decade ” by the New York times because for nine years it has been Broadway’s highest grossing show. We can add that on Press night, in San José, i"WICKED" lived up to our expectations. Directed by JOE MANTELLO, the story ran faultless though the night and the witches performances were superb.

As Elphaba RAVER LAPMAN  (the “Standby for the role) sang her songs well and acted her role with conviction, making the audience feel her pain of being rejected by everyone, her anger, and at the end, her hopeless love.   

As Galinda  (changed to Glinda) LEE SCHWARTZ displayed the beautiful tone of her soprano voice when singing, and her acting projected the shallowness of her character. Her dialogue, was interpreted with naturality,and she was wonderful tossing her hair as if demonstrating that nothing, but her, are important in her life.   

As “The Wonderful Wizard” KASURINSKY was also realistic in his performance.  His rendition of “Wonderful” the song in which he explains that he arrived in OZ blown by “the wind of Chance” and became “wonderful” because the citizens of Oz needed someone to believe in, was sung with lots of feeling.Overall, it was a wonderful performance with each actor representing his or her role well.

But specially moving in this production was the end, when Glinda and Elphaba meet for the last time and Glinda sings “For Good” the song in which says that people come into our lives for a purpose and admits, for the first time, that she is who she is now, (a better person) because she met Elphaba.  

l-R CHANDRA LEE SCHWARTS & EMMA HUNTON
            l-R CHANDRA LEE SCHWARTS & EMMA HUNTON

WICKED will play at the S.J. Center for the Performing Arts until September 14.  For tickets call 866-395-2929 or order them online at www.broadway-sanjose.com