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By Anna Gerrol
Stephen Schwartz’ live adaptation of “Wicked” finally arrived in Orlando at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center last week, bringing with it an incredible cast and tremendous talent in stars Jackie Burns as Elphaba and Emily Ferranti as Glinda, usually performed by Chandra Schwartz.
Based on a book by Winnie Holzman and a Gregory Maguire novel, this musical puts a new twist on the popular “Wizard of Oz” film, giving us a socially conscious reinterpretation of the “Wicked Witch of the West.”
Elphaba, known as the Wicked Witch, was born as the result of an affair, and outcasted from birth, not only by the public but by her father. As young adults, she and her disabled sister Nessarose go off to a boarding school called Shiz, where Elphaba meets Glinda, the epitome of all that is girly, colorful, and pretty.
The two are as different as can be. Elphaba is plain, boring, unattractive, and friendless. Glinda on the other hand is the most popular girl in school and has no problem getting whatever she desires. When they are both paired to room together, they are forced to see outside the box and open their minds to someone who may look a little different than what they are used to.
The story develops and the two girls become the best of friends, defying the odds and helping each other grow as individuals. When the Wonderful Wizard of Oz turns the town on Elphaba and spreads lies about her, she flees, leaving Glinda behind and vowing never to return.
“It was amazing. It touches you even before you saw the show if you heard the music. When you see the show, it hits home for you,” stated former Valencia Community College student Mitchell Roynolds.
“Wicked” has a ton of very valuable lessons that we should always remember. The main theme of the entire story is that we shouldn’t judge someone based on physical appearance before getting to know who they really are.
Other messages are expressed as well, such as overcoming obstacles and not letting anything get you down. “Defying Gravity” is all about freeing yourself from what’s typical and ignoring what others say you should conform to. “It always gets me emotional even though I’ve seen it before. It’s nice to have dreams and go above and beyond,” said audience member Stacey Pearson.
Through songs like “For Good,” the play expresses the message that although people come and go, they have a purpose. “The friendship between Glinda and Elphaba is really beautiful how two different people can still get along,” said Sherrita Alexander. We learn from everyone that comes into our lives, and even if they leave someday, they leave an impression on us forever.
This play is a must see for everyone, young and old. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be moved by the performance. “The audience has been way more enthusiastic here than in previous cities,” commented Colin Hanlon who plays Fiyero, the lead male role and love interest of both Glinda and Elphaba. No matter who you are or what you’re into, there is something for everyone.
“Wicked” will run until Sunday, March 27. For more information on current and upcoming performances coming to the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center, visit: http://www.orlandovenues.net.