Green glowing light radiates from the center of a giant map mounted on stage while a huge Time Dragon Clock looms menacingly over the stage of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
The red glowing eyes of the dragon glare at the audience while white smoke emerges from its huge mouth.
Welcome to Wicked!
This musical play is often described as “The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz” with the tagline “So much happened before Dorothy dropped in.”
Even if you have no background about The Wizard of Oz, Wicked is a prequel that will not alienate anyone as it offers excellent production values while presenting the backstories of Glinda who grows up to be the Good Witch and the green-skinned Elphaba who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West.
The musical also delves into the origins of the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow.
Wicked depicts two girls dealing with the joys and pains of growing up while studying in a boarding school for aspiring witches and wizards (Shiz Academy).
Glinda (played by Suzie Mathers) is a vain, cheerful blonde who is the most popular girl in their school. She displays such a high level of energy and enthusiasm that is remarkably consistent throughout the play (which runs at almost three hours).
Elphaba (played by Jemma Rix) is a misunderstood and ostracized girl who possesses true magical gifts. She showcases excellent comedic timing as she delivers snappy one-liners that had the crowd in stitches. Her makeover scene with Glinda is a laugh-out-loud scene that is truly a delight to watch.
The two girls start out loathing each other but they eventually form a friendship that is tested repeatedly in various situations.
As Prince Fiyero, Steve Danielsen shifts from a being a cocky, fun-loving character to a brave man nobly fighting for his ladylove.
(Read related article: Face to face with the cast of Wicked)
One of the highlights of Wicked is the show-stopping tune "Defying Gravity," wherein Elphaba rides her broomstick and soars high above the stage. She is illuminated by a dramatic play of lights during a production number that makes this musical a must-see onstage.
The set design is very effective in setting the mood of the various scenes. The setting is very believeable, whether it is a boarding school or a dark, dense forest. Even the mechanical head of the Wizard is a technological wonder in itself.
Wicked stresses the importance of knowing when to fit in and when to stand out.
As a young student, Elphaba has to bear with the antics of the Mean Girls in school.
Later on, when Elphaba and Glinda both discover the true nature of the Wizard, they are faced with the dilemma of choosing which path to take in life.
In a selfie-obsessed world, Wicked is also a good reminder for everyone that physical appearance is not everything.
Wicked also challenges traditional notions of good and bad as it encourages viewers to re-evaluate labels dictated upon by society.
The Manila production of Wicked offers an impressive theatrical experience due to its elaborate set design and its pool of talents who will bewitch audiences with their vocal prowess.
So join the hustle and bustle in Emerald City and be prepared for a wicked good time.
For tickets to Wicked (which runs until March 9), call TicketWorld at Tel. No. 891-9999 or visit Ticketworld Online.
THEATER REVIEW: Something Wicked comes to Manila
by Jocelyn Dimaculangan posted on February 1, 2014