by DICK KEREKES
The Times Union Center belongs to the witches until May the 10th. They moved in on April 23rd when Wicked opened and lived up to all the hype that has been building for months. It is one of those blockbuster shows that the FCCJ Artist Series brings in for North Florida audiences and generally plays them a couple of weeks. People have been talking about Wicked since it was announced on the Broadway series. Lots of people got Wicked tickets for Christmas presents.
By now, if you have had any interest in this show, you know it is based on a book by Gregory Maguire and the story of Oz Witches, Glinda and Elphaba. It is the story of what happened before the The Wizard of Oz.
Rather than rehash the story line, let me give you my impressions of the production and some tips for enjoying it even more. Oh, by the way, I checked the night I attended and there were tickets available for all of the remaining performances starting at $30 to $125. Call 632-3373.
Visually it is spectacular, flying monkeys and witches, fantastic sets that seem to have a million lights of every color. The visuals simply mesmerize you. There were children sitting behind me and they talked up a storm before the show, but after it started they were so captivated I never heard another peep out of them.
Green is the IN color in Jacksonville, at least until May l0th and is the theme color of Wicked since Elphaba was born with green skin. When she was born and a green baby was displayed for the audience to see, it caused quite a reaction. Of course, it did not faze some of us old timers who were fans of The Incredible Hulk, the television series in the late 70s and early 80s. We know about green people!
When I attend any performance at the TU Center, I always take my binoculars, regardless of where I am sitting. I love to study the makeup and the fabrics of the fabulous costumes. I also spent a lot of time keeping track of Jacksonville Actor, Daniel Torres, who is in the absolutely marvelous ensemble. I lost track of the number of costume changes he made but he was a busy guy. Torres graduated from Douglas Anderson where he was known as Daniel Cochran.
All the voices were excellent, especially the two leading ladies, Helen Yorke and Marcie Dodd, who can really belt out the notes. You are going to see them in a lot of Broadway shows in the future. Speaking of music, I found the songs catchy and they moved the plot along. The only song that has come close to hit status is “Popular,” at least I have heard it played on the radio. The song “Wonderful” with the Wizard and Elphaba was, well, what can I say, wonderful! The show has a lot of humor, and the role of Glinda is especially humorous with some great laughs.
FCCJ Artist Series has brought in some big shows, like Phantom of the Opera, Cats, and The Lion King, to name a few of the real super musicals. Wicked certainly ranks right up there as an absolute crowd pleaser for the whole family. It is still running on Broadway and still sells out and looks like it will be in the Big Apple for a long run. Get a little wicked and see this show while you have the opportunity right here in River City.
Wicked – FCCJ Artist Series Review
by DICK KEREKES