Saturday, August 22, 2009


My husband, Gene, called me in the middle of the day to see what our plans were that evening. It was Tuesday, and nothing was on the calendar. Apparently, a friend of ours, who hunts online for discounted tickets to shows and coupons to restaurants, called and said he’d scored four tickets to the musical, Wicked, playing at the Bass Concert Hall. At a price of $60 a piece, we were elated!

Gene and I waited in the lobby for Hal and Trudy (pictured below) to arrive. Even the wait was entertaining. Watching the women and their dates arrive was like being at fashion show. I was surprised to see so many women wearing black and white. I, too, wore black. All variations of dresses were lovely – simple and sophisticated, ruffled, striped, pleated and more. Although Austin is known for being laid back, it was nice to see Austinites out on the town in style.

Hal led us to our seats. We moved closer and closer to the stage. Tenth row – I was impressed. But, as we slid past the other people already seated and arrived at our seats, I had to exclaim, “WOW!” Center seats, tenth row, $60. Oh yeah….I can dig it!

I had not read the book, Wicked, so I really didn’t know anything about the story. Revisiting the Land of Oz, we are taken back in time, before Dorothy arrived, to better understand the relationship of the witches introduced in the movie, The Wizard of Oz.

The stage curtain was decorated like a map, showing the various kingdoms within Oz. There was Munchkin Land and the Emerald City, which radiated with green light. Looming above the curtain was a huge dragon.

The lights dimmed. The curtain rose. First to appear were flying monkeys. As a child, the flying monkeys scared me. And, I must admit, these monkeys were no less frightening. Their costumes were so realistic and the mannerisms of the monkeys were threatening and unpredictable.

Along came the citizens of Oz and the beloved Glinda, Good Witch of the North, played by HelĂ©ne Yorke. Glinda arrived from the air, on a prop simulated to look like the bubble she arrived in during the movie. Her blue dress was fabulous and glittered, offsetting her light blonde hair and beautiful face. Her voice was magnificent, but what I didn’t count on was the humor. Her character throughout the musical was very comical, very funny.

She was telling the citizens the story of her relationship with Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, played by Marcie Dodd. Glinda recounts her first meeting with the strange, green girl, Elphaba, and how such opposites became acquainted.

The audience cannot help but love Elphaba. Many of us can relate to the petty prejudice she endures. We root for her and love her courage and strength. Elphaba, too, had a fabulous singing voice and the duets she did with Glinda were filled with rich harmony.

The Wizard was played by the recognizable Tom McGowan, who played Kenny, the station manager, on “Frasier”. He was quite good, too, as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the props and special effects were stunning for his role.

The citizens of Oz carried big voices that carried throughout the theater. The costumes in Wicked were awesome and whimsical and so very creative, right down to the shoes! The hairdos were distracting and funny, the hats were perfectly matched to the dresses and the dancing was delightful and perfectly timed.

All in all, the story was captivating! Not wanting to ruin the story by telling you all about it, I’ll simply say that the musical has deeper meanings – how we judge others by what they look like, the intolerance of those who don’t think like the rest of us, the trappings of ambition and greed, and how politicians cover up the truth for personal gain.

While I always expect to be entertained at musicals and plays, I have never been so enthusiastically delighted and overwhelmed by any other musical or play I’ve seen. Wicked, by far, is the best musical I have ever seen.

I hope you, too, will join the masses in reveling in the beauty and fun of Wicked!

Wicked is Wicked Good, Y’all!!

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