Twisted Sisters

She’s wickedly smart, fiery and self-possessed. She stands up for the oppressed, cares passionately for animals, and puts others’ needs before her own. The world should be hers for the taking. But Elphaba was born different—and, to her peers, different means evil. This begs the question: Are people born wicked, or is wickedness thrust upon them? Do people have the power to forge their own destiny?

Wicked kicked off the 54th season of the FSCJ Artist Series Broadway in Jacksonville with a bang, last week. The house was packed, which comes as no surprise. Since premiering on Broadway in 2003, Wicked has consistently smashed national and international box-office records, becoming one of the highest grossing musicals of all time as well as one of the longest running shows.

Told from the perspective of the Witches of Oz—Glinda the Good and Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West—Wicked is a coming-of-age story featuring two starkly different women who are at once fierce rivals and the best of friends. It’s an epic tale of friendship, identity and good versus evil. If you’ve ever yearned for acceptance, struggled with the status quo, or experienced a friendship that changed your life, Elphaba is your spirit animal, and this is your musical. She sums up her experience beautifully in song: “So much of me/ Is made of what I learned from you/ You’ll be with me/ Like a handprint on my heart/ And now whatever way our stories end/ I know you have re-written mine/ By being my friend.” Whether it’s your first Wicked experience or you’re a devotee, this production defies gravity. Masterfully moving, laugh-out-loud funny and deliciously delightful from curtain rise to fall.

FSCJ Artist Series Publicist Mariessa Garrett attended Wicked for the first time during the show’s 2012 Jacksonville run. She recalls the lasting impact it had on her. “It’s an excellent intro to Broadway,” Garrett said. “I had seen a couple of Broadway plays [before this], but I think Wicked—for me—was when I became an over-the-top Broadway fan. I remember most how much you get involved in the songs and really the scenery itself. It’s like you’re living in Oz for those two hours.”

Wicked adds a punch of family entertainment to the season’s lineup, an ideal opportunity to introduce your children or grandchildren to the magic of Broadway. The Wizard of Oz is a familiar story, and the kids will enjoy witnessing the backstory unfold on stage. “It’s great for the kids because they’ll be excited by the scenery and the different costumes,” Garrett said. “Also, Elphaba is green, and what could be better than that? I think there’s some really hard-hitting life lessons they can take away from it as well.”

Wicked is certainly not just for the kids. These are lessons that speak to us all. Good and evil are not black and white. Power corrupts. Standing up for what’s right is difficult and sometimes unpopular. Friendship is powerful. Truth is subjective. So. Many. Lessons.

Whether it’s date night, girl’s night or family night, it’s a treat to have a little bit of Broadway in Downtown Jacksonville. Walk the riverfront and enjoy dinner before heading to the Times-Union Center for world-class entertainment.

“If [Broadway] shows didn’t come to Jacksonville, you’d have to travel to New York. You’d have to buy your ticket for the show, you’d have to figure out flights, hotels, all that good stuff,” Garrett said. “Now it’s coming to town, so all you have to figure out is what night you want to go. It’s definitely convenient. It’s great to do, even if you’re not really into the arts. When you come to these shows, you’re living in the moment, and you feel like you’re really part of the show. The songs are really hard-hitting and something you’re going to want to sing along to. It’s just great entertainment and something you’ll be talking about for a while.”