It's not every day you get to see a show that can captivate and thrill you to the point of no return, as was the case for me tonight. Since finding out my first week here (in January) that Wicked was playing (its second run in LA, but the first since I've been here, obviously) at LA's historic Pantages Theater, we've had tickets to see the show. And damn. They were worth every penny. Having spent my youth never actually seeing shows (the musical genes only shine in the gay one in the family), and then also being in Albuquerque, no show ran for more than eight days, or two weeks if we were lucky. So it was (and in some ways still is) difficult for me to fathom the fact that Wicked, here, was set to run from February through June, but that they were pushing it to run all the way through January of next year. How do you sustain audiences? How do you maintain interest? And the answer is: put on the most amazing production you'll ever see in your entire life.
I'll try to sum up what it's like to see Wicked in two words: FUCKING INCREDIBLE. (Note: that first word is necessary because no other word in the English language can function as such a powerful adverb.) Aside from times when I'm sick, I've never breathed so much through my mouth in my entire life. My jaw simply refused to say put, opting instead to drop in incredulity about twice a minute.
The LA cast is amazing. A powerful ensemble traverses the stage throughout the show in a variety of roles. A live orchestra fills the place effortlessly. Characters flit about an elaborately decorated stage full of killer sets and lit by lights that, let's face it, may as well be magic. And through it all, a delightfully girly Galinda ("GAH-LINDA") (played by Megan Hilty) antagonizes a brilliantly honest and bitter Elphaba (played by Caissie Levy, who has one of the most amazing voices I've ever heard sing). The two witches played wonderfully off one another, and had the show gone on all night, I doubt very much that I would have noticed.
What's great about Wicked is that first and foremost, it's a fantastic story. Then, as a musical, the music is catchy, the lyrics are smart, and the sets are breath-taking. The Clock of the TIme Dragon? Awesome. The bridge outside? Beautiful. The school grounds? Perfect. Elphaba's castle-esque Wicked Witch Hideout*? Genius.
And costumes! My god, COSTUMES!!! Lovely, the lot of them. Having only listened to the soundtrack and read about one-third of the book (I'm still going on it, and will finish fairly soon, I'm sure), it was a treat to see it brought to life so spectacularly. I was so pulled in to the show that I may as well have been sitting on stage hanging out with everyone there. Is it any wonder, then, that as we left the theater when it was over, I waved the theater goodbye and promised to see it again soon? Yeah, didn't think so.
*I'm not sure if it's a "lair" or "castle." It always looked dungeon-y to me, or else castle-like.