“Wicked” Good Performances As The “Alternate” Oz Returns To The Fox

Jeanna de Waal as Galinda and Christine Dwyer as Elpheba in "Wicked" at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. Photo: Joan Marcus

Jeanna de Waal as Galinda and Christine Dwyer as Elpheba in “Wicked” at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. Photo: Joan Marcus

The unusual background story of Oz created by Gregory Maguire then turned into the hit musical by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman has hit St. Louis again and this show, “Wicked,” never fails to entertain. We find out how the Wicked Witch (real name: Elphaba) wasn’t so bad after all. We also meet Glinda, the Good Witch and find out how her actions put the whole “Wizard of Oz” story into motion. If you follow closely, you’ll see where everything goes wrong and meet some of your other favorites from the Emerald City in this clever and enchanting musical.

This time around, Christine Dwyer gets the fun of putting on green make up and taking center stage for great songs like “I’m Not That Girl,” “No Good Deed” and the powerful Act I finale, “Defying Gravity.” She brings a powerful voice and some excellent acting to the role. This “Wicked,” however, belongs to Jeanna De Waal as Galinda. This is the first time I’ve noticed the remarkable growth in character of Galinda and, of course, Ms. De Waal gets to brings us the great comedy turn, “Popular.”

A first-rate supporting cast includes Billy Harrigan Tighe as the puffed-up Fiyero who takes on a more familiar role at play’s end and Michael Wartella as the hapless Boq who also meets an alternate fate. Zara Mahler is marvelous as the deceitful Nessarose and Gina Ferrall delights as Madame Morrible. Paul Kreppel is properly scatterbrained as the Wizard and shines in his solo number, “Wonderful.” Jay Russell also turns in a solid performance as Doctor Dillamond who turns out to be the last of the “animal” professors- you have to see it to believe it.

Christine Dwyer, as Elphaba, belts out the dynamic "Defying Gravity" during "Wicked" at the Fox Theatre. Photo: Joan Marcus

Christine Dwyer, as Elphaba, belts out the dynamic “Defying Gravity” during “Wicked” at the Fox Theatre. Photo: Joan Marcus

Joe Mantello has directed with verve and a touch of the absurd ably assisted by Wayne Cilento’s musical staging. Thankfully the orchestra keeps things at an even pitch so we can hear the lyrics because they are quite clever. The fabulous gears and wheels of the Eugene Lee scenery is wonderful along with the constant onslaught of green. There’s just no better way to have fun than watching this upside down version of one of our beloved classics. “Wicked” is just flat out entertaining.

As you might expect, this (the third time it’s been at the Fox) is a “popular” show so plan your evening or matinee at the theatre soon. “Wicked” runs through January 6th at the Fabulous Fox. Contact MetroTix at 314-534-1111 to get your seats for “Wicked.”

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