By Ryan Wallace
Captivated by emerald lights and a ‘wickedly’ funny sense of humor, audiences in Costa Mesa are raving about a Broadway classic’s return to town this February. Bringing back the familiar faces, songs and scenes we know so well, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts welcomes back ‘Wicked’ this season for a short few weeks, and this newest rendition is one you won’t want to miss!
Three years ago, almost to the day, I saw ‘Wicked’ for the first time on assignment at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Naive to the intricacies of the show, although I knew the score forwards and back, I remember sitting in my seat focusing on every detail—trying to match what I saw on stage with the images I had created in my mind. Needless to say, I had a lot to learn. But with seeing the show several times, I’ve come to appreciate the special ways in which each cast makes the story and the music their own. And when it comes to this cast, it’s their command of the stage that really makes all the difference.
Swept off to the land of Oz, we find ourselves immersed in a story long before Dorothy arrived—a time where good and wicked was simply a matter of opinion. Here we find that rivals can become friends, mentors can be enemies, and even the purest of heart can be corrupted by temptation or greed. The musical begins, as musicals often do, with quite a spectacle. But instead of simply feeling a part of the crowd, we’re brought into the action, as this dynamic cast brings Oz to Orange County.
By making use of the beautiful scenery and larger-than-life choreography, this small cast fills every inch of the stage. And although some characters may be in the limelight more often than most, in terms of teamwork, few musical casts can quite compare to the world created by the Ozians found here. Unsuspected surprises delight as understudies and even a munchkin create the most memorable moments, and you’re certain to find a few more your night at the show. Lauren Haughton, a last-minute replacement for Nessarose on opening night, brought to light one of the most stunning transformations in the story of Oz. And by her side, Boq played by Sam Seferian defied expectations of what a munchkin can be, having one of the largest voices spoken out from the crowd.
And, of course, the stars of the show shone brightly, belting out all of the hits. But it wasn’t just the vocal ability that we were particularly impressed with, it was the reality portrayed in every scene. In what was perhaps the funniest musical performance I’ve ever seen, Galinda Upland played by Amanda Jane Cooper absolutely stole the show! Breathy and effortless, the character Cooper creates is comical with the vocal chops to back it up. And although she’s often the pun of the story, Galinda takes the time to crack a few jokes and laugh at herself… or rather, with herself. But all the while, we’re laughing with her too!
Although I learned long ago not to compare shows to the landscape and characters I’ve created in my mind, I think that this cast of Wicked far surpassed anything I could have fathomed. And with its two-week stint in Costa Mesa, I may just make the Segerstrom Center for the Arts my temporary home! Now playing through March 6th, catch an evening or matinee performance, and you’ll see why audiences are dreaming everything in emerald green!
Tickets available online (http://www.scfta.org) or at the door. Reserve your seats now, you won’t want to miss this ‘Wicked’ sensation sweeping across the OC!