“Wicked” is one of my favorite shows. Every time I see it, I am reminded of this fact. Between the great story, the awesome sets, creative costumes, and wonderful music, I put this show on my “musicals that everyone should see” list.
The current production playing through June 15 at Sacramento’s Community Center Theater is very good. I saw it on what seemed to be understudy night. The lead, Elphaba, and the love interest, Fiyero, and Elphaba’s sister, Nessarose, were all played by understudies. In fact, Fiyero was played by one actor in the first act, and a second actor had to take over the role after intermission. In 17 years of theater-going, this is only the second time I have seen a mid-show-actor-swap.
Generally speaking, understudy performances go one of two ways. Either it is abundantly clear that these substitutes aren’t comfortable in their roles because they don’t get to play them often, or the actors take the opportunity to bring everything they have in them to deliver stellar performances. Luckily for Saturday night’s crowd, the latter was the case.
Emmy Raver-Lampman was a great Elphaba. Her acting in was spot-on, and her belting was amazing. Some of the lowest notes in her songs appeared to be a stretch, but her overall vocal performance was very dynamic. Both Timothy A. Fitz-Gerald (Act I) and Kyle Brown (Act II) played excellent Fiyeros. Brown, in particular, brought intensity to the role and was very believable.
Gina Beck, playing Glinda, stole the show. Her comedic timing was perfect, her voice was beautiful (not screechy, even on the ridiculously high notes) and her portrayal of Glinda ran the gamut from silly and superficial to surprisingly subtle. In short, she was on fire this evening.
When it comes to costumes and sets, Wicked is one of my all-time favorites. The tech on this show was done very well, however the Community Center Theater’s dreadful acoustics were noticeable. There were some lyrics that I wouldn’t have been able to understand had I not already been familiar with the songs.
Overall, this is a very good production of one of my favorite shows. I definitely recommend that you see “Wicked” – if not in Sacramento, then whenever you have the chance – if you haven’t already! And if you have, revisiting Oz is always a good idea.