Sacramento audiences have been waiting to see "Wicked." Last Thursday, the cheering began as the lights went down.
So what is all the fuss about? Quite simply, "Wicked" is the biggest new Broadway franchise in years. This touring production is sumptuously mounted, with more onstage toys and technology than any show since "Phantom of the Opera" first visited 15 years ago.
Many people are aware that "Wicked" is based on "The Wizard of Oz" - it's essentially fan fiction. The principal characters are Elphaba -- the awkward girl with bright green skin and an all-black wardrobe, who grows up to become the Wicked Witch -- and Glinda, the cute, stuck-up socialite who becomes the Good Witch, dressed in radiant white. The die is cast in their first meeting, as they arrive at college and meet the headmistress.
Elphaba: "I'm the other daughter, Elphaba. I'm beautifully tragic."
Madame Morrible: "I see. Well. I'm sure you're very bright."
Glinda: "Bright? She's phosphorescent."
Meow! Naturally, these polar opposites are assigned to the same dorm room, and soon become friends, singing a duet.
If this bubbly girl power reminds you of a show like "Legally Blonde" - well, that's the plan. There are male characters, but they exist primarily to look good. And in a musical with two competing young female leads, that means a love triangle - something that never cropped up in the classic Hollywood version.
"Wicked" gets high marks as a lavish stage spectacle - with costumes and sets that look like a million bucks. I wouldn't describe "Wicked" as strikingly original… but as a latter day pop culture confection, it is first class, evoking shows like "Evita" and "Lion King." The score isn't especially memorable, but this show is fueled primarily by a clever look and attitude. Tickets are nearly sold out. But I can safely predict that "Wicked" will be back, and soon.
Broadway Sacramento presents "Wicked" at the Community Center Theater through June 17th.