Friday, May 15, 2009

Why is WICKED so popular?

A client asked this week “Why is WICKED so popular?” Or as the song in the show says POP U LAR… I didn’t even need to think about it for my response. For the same reason that PHANTOM OF THE OPERA has been running for over 20 years, it is familiar and it is spectacle. Almost every American from 6-80 has seen the beloved WIZARD OF OZ and lived by its imposed morals. “There’s no place like home…” We know the characters, and everyone has a favorite, be it the Scarecrow, The Lion, Tinman or Dorothy. Most would not say the Wicked Witch of the West. However, WICKED takes you on a different path down the yellow brick road and follows The Wicked Witch from birth on to cleverly show you a different twist to who these people really are. With a wonderful musical score by Stephen Schwartz that has teens all over the country singing in their school show choirs to talent competitions, it is no wonder that the show’s popularity is spreading faster than the Swine Flu. Visually it is a bit over the top, including a scene with the famed winged monkeys. But this too is just what audiences want to see. Spectacle is part of what makes Broadway different.

I can see good actors perform in wonderful plays all over the country. Or I can see a “road show” of a Broadway show. BUT the one thing that is always missing is state of the art technology that shows the best of the best as far as (spectacle) sets, lights and costumes are concerned. Anyone who has seen a big Broadway show, and a road company of that same show knows exactly what I am talking about. For me and many others that is exactly what Broadway is…the best of the best. That doesn’t just mean the best actors, or the most interesting script it means I want to see on Broadway what I cannot see anywhere else in the country. So it is not just hype that makes people keep coming back to see WICKED and or PHANTOM, it is because they feel there are seeing something special unlike anything they have seen anywhere else. So I say to the folks who are a bit more seasoned and use discretion in choosing their shows…see WICKED and see EXIT THE KING, or WAITING FOR GODOT or MARY STUART. A bit of both worlds is good for all of us.


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