Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Must be the season of the witch

Wicked, which took up residence in NYC just a couple of months after I did, has been running on Broadway for close to four years now, and I think it's safe to say it's a hit. In the face of anything Ben Brantley or Michael Feingold or any other critic might say about it, and in spite of a not-so-impressive showing at the 2004 Tonys, it is a major hit and a big crowd-pleaser. I saw it for the first time last night, and ordinarily that would mean a lengthy review here today. But I have a feeling that if you were going to bother to have an opinion about Wicked, you would have formed it long ago, and so it seems like a waste of time for me to review it now.

Instead I will just say that, if you are inclined to see Wicked (for the first time, or on a return trip), right about now would be a good time to do so. As Elphaba, Julia Murney is wearing the green paint with as much dignity as she can muster, and using her powerful pipes to bring some color to Stephen Schwartz's generally colorless score. Sometimes you can even hear her over the mechanical blare of the "orchestra." Kendra Kassebaum is sensational as Glinda: there isn't a joke in the show that's better than feeble, but she still made me laugh nearly every time she was onstage. Finding a performance that feels spontaneous and alive at the heart of all that noise is no small miracle, and if that "replacement cast member" Tony ever got off the ground, she'd be a nominee for sure.

I digress, to ask a question with no good answer: Why do both leading ladies have vanity-site URLs in their bios, but no actual vanity sites? is "under construction," and takes you to one of those sketchy ad-laden "search engine" sites. And the show's current Boq, Logan Lipton, pulls the same trick. People, don't advertise a website you haven't built yet! I shouldn't have to tell you this!

Finally: I love those flying monkeys. I want to write a new musical just about them -- and I wouldn't wimp out by making them friendly and misunderstood, either. Winged Monkeys! Fearsome. Irredeemable. Sure to give your 11-year-old daughter nightmares. Tell me there isn't an audience for that.

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