I'm very rarely at the theatre these days - having a major flood take out all the performance venues in your area will do that to your social life. Wicked came to Des Moines for a few weeks and my youngest brother asked if we (parents, brother, sister, and sister-in-law) would like to go see a performance as his birthday present. Pretty nice present, eh?
I really can't say there's anything not to like about Wicked as a musical - the story is a great adaptation of the Maguire book and the Stephen Schwartz score is amazing. If I hadn't known it was a Schwartz score, I probably would have guessed that anyway. The costumes are fabulous and the sets are amazing with a steam-punk vibe.
Major, major kudos to the woman who portrayed Elphaba (don't have the program on me right now so name to be filled in later). She was the standby, not first cast, and blew everyone's socks off. Amazing voice. Truly spine-tingling, especially "The Wizard and I" and "Defying Gravity" (I dare anyone to dislike that song).
The performance's only let-downs came from Glinda (who seemed to be doing a "Kristen Chenoweth does Glinda" thing and it didn't feel natural) and the performance venue. I'm not going to harp on the actress - maybe her performance was having an off night. I will complain about the acoustics in the Civic Center. I actually performed there in high school for State Jazz Band competition and it's like performing in a big, fuzzy barrel; being an audience member isn't much better. The auditorium isn't very live (the walls have thin carpeting on them) so the sound starts to muffle about halfway into the auditorium even if the performers are miked combined with the fact that this auditorium is very long (there's no center aisle (s) so the rows have to be much wider to allow people to walk all the way to the center of the row). The solo performers had enough diction to be understood in the back of the auditorium but the ensemble really should have been biting off the consonants during group pieces. We lost a lot of chorus lyrics which is too bad because "No One Mourns the Wicked" is a great number. The piece about "Dear Old Shiz" was really garbled and even I couldn't make out the words (my brother compared it to watching an opera in a language you don't speak).
I'm very happy I finally got a chance to see this musical, having heard the original cast recording sooo many times via friends. I also, whilst digging around on IMDB to find a picture of Idina Menzel (love her!) to show my mom, noticed that a movie version of Wicked has gone into pre-production with some of the original Broadway cast rumoured to be involved. If true....that would be fantastic!!