Wicked has been making an impact on audiences around the world since 2003. Now, as theatergoers continue to ache for post-Covid nightlife, this acclaimed musical, which is based on characters from L. Frank Baum’s children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, has landed with a forceful impact at Segerstrom Hall, where it will continue to run until March 6.

The musical is an adaptation of Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Maguire’s New York Times bestselling novel uses the well-known story of Baum’s novel (and its various popular film adaptations) as a satirical springboard for providing political and social commentary on the concepts of good and evil. In short, the original story’s Wicked Witch of the West and Good Witch of the North are given complex backstories, which make them much more three-dimensional characters than their original names would suggest about them, and trouble brews in the Land of Oz.

Photo by Joan Marcus

In the musical Wicked, the wonderful Talia Suskauer portrays Elphaba (The Wicked Witch of the West) as an illegitimate, bi-racial child, who is highly gifted in magic but whose familial circumstances relegate her to the life of a caretaker for her disabled half-sister, Nessarose (the very good Amanda Fallon Smith). Universally spurned by other children as well as by her non-blood father (she was born of her mother’s affair with a mystery man), Elphaba becomes the unlikely friend of the insufferable blonde brat, Glinda (the terrific Allison Bailey).

Given the personality conflicts and social disparities between the two characters, it is truly wondrous to watch a touching “sisterhood” bloom between Elphaba and Glinda. Naturally, tragedy strikes soon after. Jealousy, politics and greed drive a wedge between the two, and Elphaba is gradually driven to become The Wicked Witch in a transition that is both tragic and glorious to behold.

Additionally, Wicked presents origin stories for a number of well-known characters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as well as a new spin on the history of The Wizard and an amusing nod towards Dorothy.

The music and lyrics of Wicked were written by Stephen Schwartz. Winnie Holzman wrote the show’s book (based on Maguire’s novel), and in its nearly 19 years in existence, the show has been garnering accolades on and beyond Broadway, where it is the 5th longest-running show in Broadway’s history.

This production is directed by Tony Award winner Joe Mantello with musical staging by Tony Award-winner Wayne Cilento, and their spectacle is pure magic. The creative and elaborate set designs extend beyond the curtain and the proscenium arch, making a perfect portal between Segerstrom Hall and the Land of Oz, where the story is set. The fantasy nature of the story – along with its famously beloved universe – is magical and whimsical enough to facilitate a highly entertaining medium in which some very hard-hitting realities about relationships, racism, and politics are addressed. Furthermore, the fantastical natures of the setting and characters create a perfect backdrop for such topics to be explored through musical theater.

Photo by Joan Marcus

The press release about this production indicated that this is the first area engagement of Wicked in three years. Additionally, it continues to hold the title of Costa Mesa’s most popular musical. It was no surprise, then, that the theatre was packed for the performance, and the performers received a standing ovation which probably would have lasted for three or more curtain calls in the event that the house lights had not been abruptly turned on after the first call.

For those wishing to attend this and any other shows at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, please observe their current COVID-19 policy requirements. Ticket holders must provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 in order to attend indoor performances. As stated on their notice, “‘Fully vaccinated’ means your performance is at least 14 days after your final vaccine dose…Those who are under age 12 and anyone without proof of being fully vaccinated must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours (3 days) prior to entering the theatre…Masks are required at all times for all patrons and visitors regardless of vaccination status in all indoor spaces at Segerstrom Center. Performance ticket holders who do not comply with these policies will not be admitted.”

For more information about the musical, visit its website:  www.WickedTheMusical.com

Single tickets for WICKED start at $ $44.75 and are available online at SCFTA.org, at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa, or by calling (714) 556-2787; for inquiries about group ticket discounts for 10 or more, call the Group Services offices at (714) 755-0236.

Photo by Joan Marcus

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