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Concert Reviews:
Well-seasond "Wicked" is mildly magical at Detroit Opera House

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2018

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There's only one way to be "Wicked" anymore.

After 15 years, the Tony (and Grammy) Award-winning musical about the witches of Oz has reached nothing less than iconic status. These days the show -- which just opened its three-and-a-half-week run at the Detroit Opera House -- is as much a singalong pop concert as it is a theatrical presentations, and rabid audiences come knowing exactly what they expect -- and what "Wicked" should be. It doesn't matter that it's not Idina Menzel playing the green-skinned Elphaba or Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda; The "Wicked" acolytes hear them singing in their heads anyway.

That takes a certain onus off any "Wicked" touring company, of course. As long as the production is flashy, the lines are delivered competently and the songs sung faithfully, it works -- and that's exactly the case with what's on stage at the Opera House now.

This version of the show noticeably lacks a standout player or two -- although Ginna Claire Mason inhabits "good" witch Glinda with tight comic timing throughout and delivers "Popular" with breathy zeal. She and Mary Kate Morrissey, as Elphaba, also display a solid chemistry as rivals turned friends and turn in a winning rendition of the emotional "For Good."

And solid is all any "Wicked" really needs to be. At this point the show is so entrenched and familiar -- and, well, so 2003 -- that every script zinger, special effect and plot twist goes down easy. The context is a bit different this time, however; Given the charged political and social tenor of the country, "Wicked's" themes of acceptance, tolerance, oligarchy, bullying and manipulation resonate as much as Stephen Schwartz's melodies, and that gives the show some extra, thoughtful weight that extends beyond the actual performance.

Rest assured "Wicked" will be with us for awhile, and maybe forever. It is indeed a tale as old as time that, as the song says, defies the gravity time sometimes puts on stage musicals -- a rare feat that makes it bulletproof even if the production is just mildly magical.

"Wicked" shows through Sept. 2 at the Detroit Opera House, 1528 Broadway St. Tickets start at $43. Call 313-961-3500 or visit boradwayindetroit.com.

Web Site: www.broadwayindetroit.com

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