John Szablewski Reviews

Theatre Review: ‘Wicked’ at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre

The original Broadway cast of “Wicked.”

Stephen Schwatz’s pop culture phenomenon, “Wicked,” is a show that continues to play to sell out crowds of theatre fanatics all across the world. The story of the witches of Oz before Dorothy dropped in, continues to break box office records and is still a favorite amongst audiences of all ages. The glitz, the glamor, and the brilliant visual effects make “Wicked” a show that just has to be seen. But one can only wonder if the show that has been playing on Broadway and touring North America for the last decade still lives up to its hype. The answer: yes, yes it does.

“After all these years, “Wicked” is still full of magic.”

Schwartz’s brilliant score still captivates in this powerhouse of a production. Right from the getgo, the ensemble’s performance of “No One Mourns The Wicked,” sets the tone for what is to come. The signing is performed effortlessly by this fantastic ensemble. Every song builds and contributes to this haunting tale of what actually took place in Oz, and how Elphaba became the Wicked Witch of the West.

Starring Ginna Claire Mason as Glinda and Jessica Vosk as Elphaba, these two ladies take on these iconic roles originated by Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, and give a magical performance that will bring you to your feet in awe. These witches have pipes and their magical instruments ring throughout the theatre especially in Vosk’s performance of “Defying Gravity” and Mason’s performance of “Thank Goodness.” They both have wonderful comedic timing and get laugh after laugh while delivering Winnie Hoffman’s heartfelt and hilarious book.

The Wizard, portrayed by Fred Applegate, is a great choice for the man behind the self crafted facade. Applegate brings a goofy charm to the character that we all love to hate, and his rendition of “Wonderful” is admirable.

The ensemble work is phenomenal, and there is no small part in this show. Collectively, this is the best utilized ensemble touring the country this season. All of their hard work and dedication assists in crafting a production that shows no signs of slowing down or going away anytime soon.

The production value is fantastic for the exception of some strange sound level issues that appeared to make the orchestra sound as if it was not balanced with all the orchestrations. I am sure these are just little simple fixes, but at times it was very noticeable, and I am sure all the other die-hard “Wicked” fans would agree. That being said, the vocal strength of the cast makes up for the balance issues, and creates a great evening of theatre.

After all these years, “Wicked” is still full of magic. What could easily become stale overtime, has never been so fresh. This is the fourth time I have seen this show, and I am still entertained and amazed at how powerful this show is. The interesting thing that hit me on my fourth go around, was the topical themes that are possessed in the script. Segregation, rights of citizens, discrimination, diversity, and the search for the truth all make an appearance. Does any of this sound familiar? Go see this show!

Running Time: 2 Hours 30 Minutes with one 15-minute intermission.

“Wicked” runs until June 4, 2017 and is presented at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre in Buffalo. For more information, click here.