Tuesday, December 2, 2003



Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz; Book by Winnie Holzman; Directed by Joe Mantello

USA Today and TimeOut both go for Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman's adaptation of Geoffrey Maguire's novel, praising its political wherewithal, it's willingness to explore dark themes, and the quality of its score and the deftness of its book. The naysayers find the show interminable, preachy, tonally confused and too flashy. At the time that it opened, Wicked was the most expensive show in Broadway history, it has since been surpassed by Young Frankenstein which was also taken to task for its expense by the critics. Quick note: everyone has very nice things to say about the show's leads (in one case, they are given credit for the evening being enjoyable at all). Neither Idina Menzel nor Kristen Chenowith (who has for the second time in her career left The Rialto for the small screen) is still in the show.

USAToday A-
(Elysa Gardner) The most complete, and completely satisfying, new musical I've come across in a long time... juggles winning irreverence with thoughtfulness and heart.

TimeOut NY A-
(David Cote) This musical prequel to The Wizard of Oz addresses surprisingly complex themes, such as standards of beauty, morality and, believe it or not, opposing fascism. Thanks to Winnie Holzman’s witty book and Stephen Schwartz’s robust, pop-inflected score, Wicked soars.

Variety C+
(Charles Isherwood) A strenuous effort to be all things to all people tends to weigh down this lumbering, overstuffed $14 million production. Wicked is stridently earnest one minute, self-mocking the next; a fantastical allegory about the perils of fascism in one scene, a Nickelodeon special about the importance of inner beauty in another. There are flying monkeys, flying witches and flying scenery, but the musical itself truly soars only on rare occasions, usually when one of its two marvelously talented leading ladies, Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, unleashes the kind of vocal magic that needs no supernatural or even technical assistance.

(Roma Torre) Wicked, the flip side to the Wizard of Oz has a lot more in common with The Boy From Oz than you might think. Just as Hugh Jackman's awesome performance keeps his show afloat, the two mesmerizing stars of Wicked will keep theirs from melting into oblivion.

NYTimes D+
(Ben Brantley) It's hard to avoid the impression that whenever Ms. Chenoweth leaves the stage, "Wicked" loses its wit, while its swirling pop-eretta score sheds any glimmer of originality. There are visual and verbal jokes aplenty throughout this thorned re-creation of Baum's enchanted land, where Glinda and Elphaba get to know each other long before a little brat named Dorothy shows up. But more often than not, the humor brings to mind a slightly sweaty young college professor with a social conscience, hoping to win over his students by acting funky and cracking wise.

NY Daily News D
(Howard Kissell) An interminable show with no dramatic logic or emotional center.... If the theater enforced more stringent economic controls, the creators would have had to solve the problems emotionally. "Wicked" then might have had more impact

USA Today A- 12; TimeOut NY A- 12; Variety C+ 8; NY1 C 7; NYTimes D+ 5; NYDaily News D 4; TOTAL = 48/6 = 8 =C+

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