Saturday, November 3, 2018

POP-U-LAR


Wicked, she is, but not so much. She’s also Elphaba, green and not the most popular girl on the campus of Shiz U. Being green, as Kermit the Frog says, “isn’t easy.” But Eplhaba (Jackie Burns) doesn’t shy away from difficult.

Elphaba and her fellow Wicked’s flew back into San Diego for close to a month to bring “Wicked” to us; ending just after Thanksgiving. She might possibly want to be with her friends in the North or…?  

The Tony Award Winning Broadway musical “Wicked”(it opened on Broadway in 2003 and never looked back) is here by POP-U-LAR demand at the Civic Theatre in downtown San Diego.

Brought to us by Broadway/San Diego, it is expected to fill the house throughout the month by followers of the best selling 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire (you must read the book “Son of a Witch”) based as well on the characters and story in L. Frank Baum’s 1939 ever so POP-U-LAR movie ‘The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz’.

 “Wicked” is the backstory to  ‘Wonderful Wizard Of Oz’. With music by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holtzman, the peppy show is clever, smart witty and 
fun all rolled into one.



Jackie Burns is Elphaba

Schwartz’s lyrics and music are brilliant and catchy and Holtzman’s book is clear and memorable. Overall it’s a show worthy of its popularity. (One of Schwartz’s more snappy songs in the show “
POP-U-LAR” and sung by Kara Lindsay’s Glinda is well, is one of the more popular and recognizable. Others that are catchy include “I’m Not That Girl” “Defying Gravity”, “Dancing Through Life” and "I Couldn't Be Happier"..

References in Wicked to “Wizard of Oz” are made throughout as to how the two are interwoven. Anyone who has seen the screen version and fell in love with Dorothy, Kansas, the tornado, Aunt Em, Toto and that group will remember how Dorothy takes a tumble into the land of OZ after a tornado rips through Kansas. The rest, as they say, is history. Then there’s Maguire’s back-story to the story and “Wicked” is it! .


Kara Lindsay and Jackie Burns

The two main characters around which the story revolves are Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda The Good Witch of the North. The two form an unholy alliance when they are thrown together at Shiz University. They end up as room mates through some convoluted pairing system.  

Their behaviors and their personalities both as roommates and as women are as diametrically opposed to each other as night is to day. Elphaba as mentioned is green, (an accident of birth explained early in the story), discriminated against, smart, not overly friendly with the ‘frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn attitude about what folks think. 

Glinda is beautiful, popular, a tad bit superficial at first and usually gets anything and anyone she wants. She eventually befriends Elphaba and tries to teach her the ins and outs of being the P word.

Over time we get to learn the story of the why of their friendship and how they got from being roommates to friends to adversaries to both loving the handsome Fiyero (Jon Robert Hall) to their visit to Emerald City and their fateful meeting with the Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Jason Graae).

It is here they meet an Ozian Official (Wayne Schroder) who has a secret, which 
is later revealed. It is also at this meeting that Elphaba gets to use her magical 
powers. Yes she flies and uses her handy, dandy broomstick for all sorts of missions.

Maguire’s back story is fascinating and engrossing, eventually bringing in all the elements of Oz, the munchkins and characters from Baum’s original novel together while being original and novel on it’s own accord as it comes full circle.

Secrets are exposed, threats and promises made, power is transferred to the most unlikely of characters until finally the then Galinda the Good (she now wants to be called Glinda) promises the citizens of Oz reform. Elphaba and Fiyero secretly escape from Oz and Dorothy, ah yes! Dorothy, well…

One can’t help but being intrigued with Wicked. Between the Schwartz/Holtzman 
lyrics and book, this New York ‘blockbuster’, Tony and Grammy award winner, and this current touring show which is packed with endless talent, put me to the test of trying to piece the puzzle together.

Jackie Burns is Broadways longest running Elphaba as well as being with the national tour. Her nemesis Glinda played by Kara Lindsay was also in the Broadway Company and national tour. Needless to say we are lucky and fortunately to have them both performing here in San Diego. They make one awesome duo with voices that soar and performances at their best.  

Kara Lindsay
Over time we get to learn the story of the why of their friendship and how they got from 
being roommates to friends to adversaries to both loving the handsome Fiyero 
(Jon Robert Hall) to their visit to Emerald City and their fateful meeting with the 
Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Jason Graae).

It is here they meet an Ozian Official (Wayne Schroder) who has a secret, which is later 
revealed. It is also at this meeting that Elphaba gets to use her magical powers.

Maguire’s back story is fascinating and engrossing, eventually bringing in all the elements 
of Oz, the munchkins and characters from Baum’s original novel together while being original 
and novel on it’s own accord as it comes full circle.

Secrets are exposed, threats and promises made, power is transferred to the most unlikely of 
characters until finally the then Galinda the Good (she now wants to be called Glinda) promises 
the citizens of Oz reform. Elphaba and Fiyero secretly escape from Oz and Dorothy, ah yes! 
Dorothy, well…

One can’t help but being intrigued with Wicked. Between the Schwartz/Holtzman lyrics and
book, this New York ‘blockbuster’, Tony and Grammy award winner, and this current touring 
show which is packed with endless talent.

John Robert Hall as Fiyero
Jackie Burns is Broadways longest running Elphaba as well as being with the national tour. 
Her nemesis Glinda played by Kara Lindsay was also in the Broadway Company and national tour. Needless to say we are lucky and fortunately to have them both performing here in San Diego. They make one awesome duo with voices that soar and performances at their best.  


Jason Graae smooth and suave as the empty shelled but nasty Wizard. Jody Gelb is force to be reckoned with as Madame Morrible and John Robert Hall’s Fiyero, the boy hero and love interest of both Glinda and Elphaba is a perfect fit.   


Susan Hilferty’s costumes lend to the colorful imagery. With huge clockwork turning gears (Eugene Lee) towering over the players and equally scary looking greens lighting up both dragon and Wizard figures (Kenneth Pozner), we are taken into the Land of Oz and on a fantastical thrilling journey as the magical story of “Wicked” begins. It’s wonderfully wicked and still I love it! 


This might be the third or forth time yours truly has seen “Wicked” but this is the first time I connected the political dots that point to an ever -nasty political atmosphere seen in the show I never noticed in the past.

Kara Lindsay and cast. Glinda "Couldn't Be Happier"
But with so much of what’s going on in our charged political climate today, it should not be  surprising to hear those references to hate, fear mongering, rumors and lies, killings and crooked politicians who need to be liked, but not smart. What stands out the most is how easily it is for one group to oppress another.

I hear she has an extra eye
That always remains awake
I hear that she can shed her skin
As easily as a snake!
I hear some rebel Animals
Are giving her food and shelter!
I hear her soul is so unclean
Pure water can melt her!”

It’s a bigger than life production and after 15 years it’s still running strong

See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through Nov. 25th
Organization: Broadway San Diego
Phone: 858-570-1100
Production Type: Musical
Where: 1100-3rd and B Downtown San Diego 92101
Ticket Prices: $39.00-$169.00
Web: broadwaysd.com
Venue: Civic Theatre
Photo: Joan Marcus

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