Today I’m most honor to review the First National Tour during their stop in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
It was Friday evening at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale. It was my second time visiting the theatre and once again it was a full house. The crowd was anxiously waiting for the number one running show in Broadway.
Once I entered the room the usher gave me my Playbill and the insert announcing a new Glinda in the house, Miss Amanda Cooper. I took my seat, low Orchestra, row six in the middle. Perfect spot! (Booked three months in advance). While waiting for the show to commence I was already excited for two reasons: It was my first time seeing Wicked after over a year and secondly, because I always enjoy when a new main character comes on board -at that point I knew nothing about Amanda.
Conductor gave his wave to the orchestra and the magic began…
Overall, I felt that the show was superb solid which, surprisingly after so many times I’ve seen it and heard it, made it as crisp and new as the very first time back in 2006. The entire cast soar the show into new dimensions and people responded equally with a standing ovation at the end. From the very beginning the entire ensemble was coming strong with a triumphant splendor that resembled the true spirit of the wonderful land of Oz. These performers were certainly blowing it away with an electric vibe that could amuse even the most avid Wicked fan.
Once Glinda’s bubble descended from the magical sky, sparks of talent where once again flying out into the room. Amanda Cooper, portraying the Good Witch of the North, delivered what I believe was one of the most memorable and engaging Glindas I’ve ever seen. Her comic timing and giddiness, proper of the blonde witch, was totally self-absorbing conveying the true soul and being of Glinda. Although this being her first week playing the role, her taking over the stage and her outstanding vocals gave no sensation of newbie-like staging but, on the contrary, a perfect character understanding and effervescent acting. Key in her success was her green co-star Jackie Burns. Jackie was simply perfect enabling her green-complexion character to be believable at all moments. Her voice certainly deserves a separate chapter. She has a true velvetine clash of impeccable vocals that knew how to captivate the entire audience into an hypnotic adventure of self-discovering and new friendships. Jackie Burns was simply jaw-dropping with a sweet and yet snarky take on Elphaba which I personally loved and was moved by in many occasions along the story. Jackie’s was outstanding, and her singing was far beyond perfection, following each note handwritten by Schwartz creating a spellbiding connection with the audience. Other standouts included Stephanie Brown playing Nessarose who undeniably portrayed her as a cold yet scared and powerful Nessa, giving the character new dimensions and expressions. Also, Mark Jacoby as the charming and chary Wizard of Oz, who got to bring the character unseen features and expressions.
Colin Hanlon was a proper Fiyero with no dazzling moments but great comic-timing, while Randy Danson was an artful Madame Morrible willing to follow her own desires.
Overall, Wicked has proved once again why is the most seen show in Broadway and why it continues to be the most successful musical across America. The First National Tour left Ft. Lauderdale with grace and setting new standards for upcoming shows yet to fulfill such high expectations in the audience.