Wednesday, November 09, 2005

WICKED

One of the reasons I moved to Chicago was that I wanted to invigorate myself, re-challenge myself and to start doing the things I enjoyed doing. I was asked a few months ago what my hobbies are. I didn’t have an answer. Other than working out, I didn’t really do much of anything else. But one of the things I used to enjoy was going to the theatre.

Since moving here 6 weeks ago, I have been to live theater three times, the most recent being last night, seeing “Wicked” at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theater (we saw understudy Kristy Cates in the role of Elphaba instead of SNL alum Ana Gasteyer). For a Tuesday night, the spacious theatre looked sold out from our second row seats (that’s right baby – SECOND ROW!).

I had heard some of the songs now and then at random “show tune” nights and during badly sung karaoke. I had read Gregory Maguire’s book about 8 years ago, but the musical is quite different from the book (and it’s heavily based on the 1939 movie). But “Wicked” is simply magical. It’s a prequel and a sequel at the same time.

“The Wizard of Oz” has long been my favorite movie of all time. The lessons it teaches (acceptance, diversity, strength within, etc.) are tried and true. “Wicked” follows those same themes, with cameo appearances by the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion (it was interesting to see a version of how the OZ triumvirate came into being). Even Dorothy makes a (very) brief appearance.

Glinda was kooky, but likeable, and “Elphie” was a bit bullish and awkward. But together, they were very strong. There are two things I love in live theater: male dancers and female duets. In those two capacities, this show did not disappoint.