ON ASSIGNMENT: Because we live in a ‘Wicked’ world

SUPREMO - Tim Yap - The Philippine Star
ON ASSIGNMENT: Because we live in a âWickedâ world
The Wicked cast transports the audience to the Emerald City.

Everything is slightly off kilter here. We have 13 hours, the clothes are slightly tilted and it all reflects the fantastical world of Oz,” says Leigh Constantine, director of the Manila staging of Wicked, as he takes us on an onstage and backstage tour of the Emerald City, where, later in the night, the now immortal tale of Glinda and Elphaba will take place.

By now we are all too familiar with the ingenious re-­imagining of the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Wicked, on the other hand, tells the incredible story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two sorcery students who first meet at Shiz University. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfill their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West, characters who are now forever etched in musical theater history.

“It’s not just a show. It’s a spectacle,” said James Cundall of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, partners of Concertus Manila, the Philippine producers who brought you everything from Blue Man Group to Les Miz. “It has been so well received we decided to bring it back again,” said Joey Verzo, head of Concertus.

Armed with a cast of 34 who have six costume changes each, a total of 105 people for the entire show including tech and costumes, Wicked is a show you can see again and again and have different realizations. The tale and its characters are as timeless as they are twisted, and there lies the appeal of this show, which cuts through ages more for its “what happens before and after the happily ever after” type of story. If you notice, it was Wicked that started this train of story telling, way before the new wave of Disney even picked it up.

UK cast in Manila

For this particular run, a full British cast is utilized (the last run was a full Australian one), add to that the tour de force performance of real life Barbie doll in the form of Carly Anderson as Glinda. Jacqueline Hughes, on the other hand, as Elphaba brings the house down with her through-the-roof vocals and a unique and earthy attack on the role.  Bradley Jaden as Fiero delivers the romantic punch with a non-cliche ease. I saw him last as Enjolras in Les Miz at the West End (with Rachelle Ann Go as Fantine) and he was phenomenal. If only for the strength of these three lead cast I implore you to catch the show, but I must say the entire British ensemble truly delivers. I met them both right after the Singapore tour gala and at the Manila after party and they are such a stellar group. Defying gravity is apt.

Why else should you watch the show? Well, aside from the visual razzmatazz and the music that Wicked provides, there are so many parallelisms in our current scene that are so poetically magnified on stage. Now, I don’t want to get too political on this space, but there are too many similarities to what is happening in this country and in the world — which makes the show all the more current in all accounts.

Some fast facts: Wicked has already been seen by 50 million people around the world and is one of the most celebrated and successful musicals of all time. It has won over 100 major awards and has already been performed in over 100 cities in 14 countries around the world (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, Germany, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, The Philippines, Mexico and Brazil) and has also been translated from its original English into Japanese, German, Dutch, Spanish, Korean and Portuguese.

But more than that, go see Wicked (or watch it again) because you’ll have an awesome good time in the theater. It’s the perfect anti-jadedness antidote. We all need a dose of Wicked every now and then. Elphaba got it right when she said “Everyone deserves a chance to fly!”

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More wickedness on my social media accounts @officialtimyap on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.


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