Correction: The original version of this article contained an error. “Wicked” begins with the munchkins of Oz celebrating the death of Elphaba.
In “The Wizard of Oz,” the Wicked Witch of the East, Nessarose, gets her five minutes ““ more like one minute ““ of fame when a young girl’s home fatally lands on her. The rest of the story proceeds to tell how Dorothy, a girl traveling through the land of Oz wearing the witch’s sparkly red shoes, attempts to find her way back home with the help of Glinda, the Good Witch of the North.
However, if there is one character from “The Wizard of Oz” who deserves a back story, it’s definitely not the young girl whose house gets blown away by a tornado. Instead, it is Elphaba (Mamie Parris), sister to the Wicked Witch of the East (Cristy Candler), who has a more compelling story to tell ““ one about a time where she wasn’t wicked at all.
The musical “Wicked” currently playing at the Pantages Theatre tells that story.
The show begins with the munchkins of Oz celebrating the death of Elphaba. The production does an extraordinary job in the storytelling and performance while also including just the right amount of comedy and wit in between. “Wicked” combines love, tragedy and ethics to create a story with a not-so-predictable happy ending.
As Glinda (Katie Rose Clarke) enters and celebrates with the rest of Oz, one of the munchkins questions whether she was once friends with the Wicked Witch. As the munchkins gasp in disbelief that someone would ask such a question, Glinda begins to tell the story of when she first crossed paths with the Wicked Witch ““ a time where she and Elphaba became good friends.
Each number the cast performed ended with a roaring applause from the audience while every joke, whether minor or major, was reciprocated with just the right amount of laughter echoing through the Pantages.
The stage production was also very impressive, with smooth transitions between scenes and performances.
Clarke does an amazing job as Glinda, an overconfident, popular and spoiled girl who always gets her way. From her exaggerated movement on stage to her knack for using a lot of made-up words, Clarke had a stage presence that kept the audience wondering what she was going to do or say next.
Parris also does a spectacular job in playing just the opposite of Clarke, a green (literally) character who has no friends and is blamed by her father for why her sister has to be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
As the plot carries the audience through Glinda and Elphaba’s time as students, roommates and friends, “Wicked,” includes frequent references to “The Wizard of Oz” ““ telling a back story of how the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow all came about.
The musical reveals many ideas that would have never been evident just by watching “The Wizard of Oz.”
“Wicked,” at some points in the musical, makes audiences who have grown up with the “The Wizard of Oz” story feel cheated and mislead about “the wonderful wizard” as well as the wicked and good witches, but at the same time happy to finally know the truth.