Broadway shows are such spectacles that you begin to expect more and more. Any show without flying, virtual image projection, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in lights is a failure. Wicked sets the standards for this type of musical. Now in its post-broadway touring phase, the show is best at giving people what they want to see: a familiar and loveable connection to the characters (The Wizard of Oz), a witty script, shouting pop songs with more melismas than Mariah Carey, and a theatrical wizardry (no pun intended) including an overuse of stage fog. Audience members could not be happier with Wicked because it combines all the elements so well into a loveable and exciting storyline.
The show swept the Tony Awards two years ago after previewing in its pre-broadway run in San Francisco. Now, it’s back and it appears old hat for the cast and crew. A Wednesday night show was packed solid and the audience was laughing and clapping within seconds of the opening. I got the feeling that at least a quarter of the audience had seen it before and loved it even better the second time.
Wicked is good becuase it plays to the modern taste for musicals. It’s almost like the age of media arguments; people want to see multimedia spectacles. People want to see and hear the millions of dollars in set designs, makeup, costuming, electric synthesizers, and fog. Bad script writing and bad music composition will kill the show. Wicked succeeds by having good raw materials in the script and music and then adding what our modern audience wants. It also helps to have one all-star singer that can belt it night after night.
Consequently, I am adaquetely inspired to produce a spectacle in China. Stay tuned.