Hop aboard a magic broomstick, grab a black witch's hat and fly over to the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford for a glitteringly devilish good time with "Wicked." Until Sunday, November 23, this musical, having garnered 35 major awards, a Grammy and three Tonys, based on the book by Gregory Macquire,with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman, takes us back before Dorothy and her furry friend Toto whirled their way from a Kansas farmhouse to the enchanted Yellow Brick Road and, ultimately, to a visit with the grand poobah himself, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Dial back the clock and click your heels three times to discover when two young girls meet at boarding school and become roommates, initially hating each other but eventually becoming BFFs, best friends forever. The unlikely pair are Glinda, a perky and bubbly Kara Lindsay, who has a super abundance of self-esteem and a major case of ME-ism and Elphaba, a feisty and independent Laurel Harris, who has the distinct disadvantage of having been born green. As Kermit the Frog and Shrek can attest, it's not easy being green and being at Shiz University, where the students should be enlightened, is no different.
Even though Glinda gives Elphaba a "make-over," to improve her looks and personality, the loyalties of the precious Glinda and the defensive Elphaba are soon tested. The head mistress at Shiz, Madame Morrible (Kathy Fitzgerald) allows all the animals who speak to lose their powers of speech and Elphaba's dedicated teacher, Doctor Dillamond, (Michael Devries) a goat, is forced to leave the classroom. That discriminating event sets off a quest where Elphaba, with a little help from her friends Glinda and a new student Fiyero (Matt Shingledecker), journey to Oz to meet the Wonderful Wizard (Gene Weygandt) to have him make things right. To add a little more complication to the tense situation, Elphaba's little sister Nessarose (Emily Behny and Jenny Fellner) blames her for her being confined to a wheelchair and exercises her powers for evil instead of for good. Remember that all three are witches!
When Nessarose takes over her father's position as Governor of Munchkinland, she uses her unique talents to control her subjects, especially over Boq (Lee Slobotkin). Evil battles goodness as winged monkeys fly, spell books are experimented with, guards seek to capture, Munchkins lose rights, houses crash and the Wizard turns out to be not so wonderful after all. Before you know it, the Tinman, the Scarecrow and the Lion are all on the loose anxiously waiting for Dorothy to arrive.
Songs like "Popular," "For Good" and "Defying Gravity" soar to great heights in this magical musical with glorious direction by Joe Mantello, incredible costuming by Susan Hilferty, brilliant lighting by Kenneth Posner and inspiring musical direction by William David Brohn, Stephen Oremus and Wayne Cilento.
For tickets to “Wicked” ($47.50-172.50), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org. Performances are Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Grab your magic broomstick and defy gravity at what Entertainment Weekly calls “the best musical of the decade.”