Tuesday, September 18, 2007

'Wicked' and Wheelchairs

My wife Kathy and I took in 'Wicked' this weekend at the Gershwin Theatre in Manhattan with her sister and some of her fellow Physical Therapist faculty members.

The musical, a prequel to the Wizard of Oz, truly requires a knowledge of the classic movie. Wicked is brilliantly written, clever, funny, and beautifully produced. Wicked explains the backstory of many of the Wizard of Oz characters, most specifically, the Wicked Witch of the East's (TWW) personal journey.

Lisa Brescia played Elphaba (TWW) and she was wonderful. Glinda, the Good Witch was played by Kendra Kassebaum with comedic aplomb and the interchange of these two opposite characters is worth the price of admission.

Glinda is not so much 'good' as popular and Elphaba is not so much 'wicked' as green. Elphaba's travails to deal with the prejudices and belligerence at school is the central theme and the show's hit song, Defying Gravity, is a lyrical masterpiece. This show will become a staple of the local theater production circuit because it speaks to students young and old.

The first Act is much stronger than the second, IMO - a minor matter of taste.

The most interesting observation about the show was debated by the Physical Therapists in our party. In a number called Dancing Through Life, Elphaba's wheelchair bound sister Nessarose attends a student dance. Within the number she dances in the wheelchair. In the production we saw, this wheelchair dance is fairly pathetic and pedestrian. The PTs considered this a flaw in the production. They insisted,
It's too bad they settled for just that. She [Nessarose] could have done so much more in a wheelchair!
Wicked is coming to Hartford soon. Let me know if Nessarose's dance number starts to shine.

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