The wickedly enchanting Wicked returns

PARINIG NGA! - Baby A. Gil - The Philippine Star
The wickedly enchanting Wicked returns
The musical is a rare experience wherein touching drama comes with magnificent music, comedy and visual spectacle in one wholesome package

The thought is one that crosses my mind and I am sure also others after a particularly enjoyable musical show. Will I get the chance to watch this again? Maybe. A band or solo artist will surely do return engagements. But the idea is instantly dismissed in the case of foreign touring companies. Manila is too small a place to be a frequent stop for them and it might cost too much to have them back. So it is not likely that they will pass this way again. 

I felt that way after watching Wicked at the CCP a few years ago. I am sure many others in the audience felt the same. Wicked has been dubbed a “cultural phenomenon,” “The best musical of the decade” and was Broadway’s No. 1  selling show for an unprecedented nine years. What we saw lived up to all the hype. It is no surprise that Manila fell under its spell.

Wicked is a rare experience wherein touching drama comes with magnificent music, comedy and visual spectacle in one wholesome package. Everybody loved it and wondered, do you think we will ever watch Wicked again?  How nice to be able to answer yes to that question. Wicked is back. Somebody came up with a spell that made it return to Manila.

Wicked returns to Manila on Feb. 2, this year and will play at The Theatre in Solaire until March 12. It is not a long run but it is an opportunity to relive the magic of the gravity-defying musical that kiddies, teenagers and adults, I should say entire families, have come to love. Book your tickets now at ticketworld.com.ph and through all Ticketworld outlets.

Wicked is based on a novel by Gregory Maguire, who was inspired by the Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. It brings unknown facets of the tale of Oz to light. It is a prequel and a sequel and also runs parallel to The Wizard of Oz. It tells the story of the witches of Oz. Those familiar with the tale know that these are Glinda, the incandescent good witch of the North and Elphaba, the green-complexioned wicked witch of the West who is from the Emerald City. 

Wicked goes back to the way they were. Here is how Elphaba was born green. Here is how she became friends with Glinda. Here, too, is her romance with the boy Fiyero. It explains that Elphaba is not really all bad and Glinda is not really all good. They are just like ordinary people who react to how they are treated by others, most especially if like Elphaba, they look different, as a result of which she was bullied and called wicked all her life.

Wicked is really a convoluted play that tries to sew up everything to provide a beginning and an end and an inner story with The Wizard of Oz. This is not easy to do and Wicked can be too much of a good thing at times. The writing presumes that everybody has read the book and seen the much-loved MGM classic movie that starred Judy Garland.  But this is nitpicking. In fact, all I remember from Wicked’s first visit were oohs and aahs and smiling faces.

The sounds of Wicked are so absolutely delightful. The songs are melodic and memorable. These are composed by Broadway legend Stephen Schwartz, who also did Godspell and Pippin. You will go home humming Popular, already a hit by Ariana Grande, the duet For Good, the love ballad As Long As You’re Mine, and one of the most sensational first act closers ever written, Defying Gravity. Believe you me, this number alone is already worth the admission price. The singing is, of course, fantastic. It has to be with those wonderful songs. 

The staging is also a marvel. There are wizards and witches and winged monkeys who fly and travel on broomsticks and inside bubbles around the stage. They cast a lot of spells. I think most especially on everybody watching. This is what has been happening on Broadway these past 10 years and in other parts of the world where Wicked has played and continues to play. This is why we are all happy that Wicked is back. We are still under the spell.

All set for the Solaire run are Jacqueline Hughes as Elphaba; Carly Anderson as Glinda; Bradley Jaden as Fiyero; Steven Pinder as The Wizard and Doctor Dillamond; Kim Ismay as Madame Morrible; Iddon Jones as Boq; and Emily Shaw as Nessarose. Jodie Steele will be Elphaba at certain performances.

 Wicked is produced around the world by Marc Platt, Universal Stage Productions, The Araca Group, Jon Platt and David Stone. Executive producer UK and International tour is Michael McCabe.  The Manila engagement is presented by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and Concertus Manila.

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