‘Wicked’ takes flight in Salt Lake
The touring production of Wicked, which just opened at Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City and runs through Aug. 26, is so laden with ideas and messages, it’s a wonder it takes off the ground. But it does take off and it absolutely defies gravity.
The now blockbuster musical follows the story of green-skinned Elphaba (Nicole Parker), later known as the Wicked Witch of the West, and Galinda, later changed to the more popular moniker, Glinda (Alli Mauzey), as they journey through school. The musical wastes no time launching into familiar territory with the infamous flying monkeys taking the stage on the opening number. But the storyline takes an interesting turn from the get-go and the familiar story of the Wizard of Oz becomes topsy-turvy and things aren’t quite as they appear.
The true depth of the story is the insight into Elphaba and her tortured past. Aside from belting some of the most recognizable Broadway tunes of all time, it’s her modest nuances that give important insight — the slightly slumped shoulders and defensive body language. And Parker, a veteran of MADtv, executed each song and step perfectly.
While Elphaba provided the depth and the driving storyline, Glinda provided comic relief and a truly fabulous performance. Even when off stage, you can’t help but wonder what shenanigans she’s up to and when she’ll be back. Mauzey, who played Glinda on Broadway, landed each line with expert comedic timing. She flaunts and flourishes her beautiful, if naive, smile and had the most memorable performance of the night. Gleefully ignorant and shallow, but openhearted, Mauzey takes the character first portrayed by Kristin Chenoweth and makes her irresistible, even to Elpahaba.
Watching the chemistry between Mauzey and Parker and the frenemy-style relationship as the two turn from reluctant roommates to practically sisters is the most magical journey of the evening.
The clockwork background and steampunk-esque theme and costumes are just part of the overwhelming and stunning background that transports the audience to another world. With a fire-breathing dragon, flying monkeys and more fog and lighting than a San Francisco gay club, an evening in Oz is a fantastical experience.
The production blended the hilarious and tender with strong supporting performances of the fame-seeking Oz (PJ Benjamin) and Madame Morrible (Liz McCartney). The performance runs through Aug. 26 with limited showings still available through arttix.org.