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Bettie's Box Office:Wicked Review

Updated: Saturday, March 1 2014, 03:13 PM CST

Wicked has returned to Bass Concert Hall as part of the Broadway in Austin series. This musical does for the Wicked Witch of the West what the most recent Star Wars movies did for Darth Vader: it asks whether people are born wicked or if they have wickedness "thrust upon them."

Wicked is the untold story of the witches of Oz. It serves as a prequel and a wraparound to The Wizard of Oz, beginning and ending with the demise of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. The story is recalled by Glinda the Good (or as she pronounces it, "Guh-linda, you know, with a 'GUH'"). 

I saw Wicked on a Thursday evening performance. From a technical standpoint, the show was practically flawless. The pacing was brisk and the staging was impressive. On that night, there was an extra layer of drama: Alyssa Fox, the standby for the lead role, was playing Elphaba for the absent Jennifer DeNoia. I have to say that Fox was stellar -- you'd have thought she just stepped off of the Broadway stage herself. Meanwhile, the comic role of Glinda is written to be a scene-stealer and Hayley Podschun proved to be a master thief. The rest of the ensemble was strong with an especially notable performance by Kathy Fitzgerald as Madame Morrible.

L. Frank Baum's book The Wizard of Oz (not the Judy Garland movie) became public domain in 2011, so there has been an onslaught of new novels, mediocre movies (like last year's Oz: the Great and Powerful) and even slot machines based on his original story. But don't let "Oz fatigue" keep you away from this production of Wicked. I think it's even more enchanting than the production that came to Austin two years ago.

Wicked will be at Bass Concert Hall through March 9.

Bettie's Box Office:Wicked Review

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