Wicked comes to Tampa

Wicked street art outside the Straz Theater provides additional ambiance.

MATHIS THOERRISEN/STAFF

Wicked street art outside the Straz Theater provides additional ambiance.

Mathis Thoerrisen, Editor-in-Chief

  Feb. 1 through Feb. 26 the residents of Tampa had the pleasure of witnessing the Broadway on Tour pro­duction of Wicked at the Straz Center for Perform­ing Art.

  As one of Broadway’s more popular shows, Wick­ed has been playing for over 13 years with tremen­dous success. The musi­cal is written by Stephen Schwartz and is based on the 1995 Gregory Magu­ire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. The sto­ry is an alternative telling of The Wizard of Oz where they audience gets some in­sight as to why Elphaba (the wicked witch of the west) did what she did. The mu­sical starts off with Glin­da, played by Amanda Jane Cooper, telling the story of Elphaba’s childhood. The musical then takes a leap back in time, and we follow Elphaba, played by Jessi­ca Vosk, and Glinda as they go to the Shiz University to­gether in Oz.

  Glinda was the popular girl at school, and Elphaba the green “freak” that ev­eryone teased. However, El­phaba was especially talent­ed when it came to sorcery, and gets sent to the Wizard (Fred Applegate) himself by Madame Morrible (Isabel Keating) to train with him. Elphaba insists on taking Glinda and they meet the Wizard together. When El­phaba realizes that the Wiz­ard is a fraud, and just wants to use her for her talents, she embraces her magical powers and flies away in the spectacular musical number Defying Gravity that con­cludes the first act.

  As the second act starts, Elphaba has disappeared and the tale of her disap­pearance has been some­what modified by the Wiz­ard, Madame Morrible, and Glinda. Elphaba is por­trayed as the “bad guy” on the run, and a witch hunt is formed to catch her. Glin­da and her fiancée lead the hunt and Glinda becomes the most popular witch in Oz, and is now known as the good witch. At this point, the story ties togeth­er with the original Wiz­ard of Oz story, and, af­ter Elphaba dies, the musi­cal jumps back to the first scene, where Glinda is tell­ing the story.

  The Broadway tour cast delivers a spectacular per­formance with not a sin­gle tone missed. Jessica Vosk’s interpretation of El­phaba, especially the num­ber Defying Gravity enlist­ed standing ovations of the audience that never seemed to end.

  After the applause, the cast, led by Vosk and Coo­per, took some time to ap­peal to the audience, asking for support for their chari­ty Broadway Cares, which is one of the nation’s lead­ing industry-based HIV and AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations.

  Tickets for the Broadway on Tour shows can be very expensive, but there is still hope if you are on a bud­get. Two hours before every show, the theater hosts a lot­tery where 20 lucky winners get to buy orchestra seats for $25 each.

  One of the lucky few, Savannah Rogers, says she thinks it is a great way for people that usually cannot afford tickets to still see the show. Rogers actually won tickets for two separate per­fomances on two different dates.