Review: WICKED First National Tour Brings In The New Year To Los Angeles


By Mitch Friedman – EXCLUSIVE for BroadwayisWICKED
http://www.mitchophoto.com

From its very opening, the New Year’s Eve show of WICKED in Los Angeles promised to be a good one. The citizens of Oz, who opened the show, seemed to have the magic— they just seemed on. The tour arrived in Los Angeles November 30th and took only Mondays off until the schedule changed for the holidays to Monday through Saturday with two shows on Wednesday and Friday. The cast was looking forward to two days off in a row for New Years.

Katie Rose Clarke (Glinda) was strong as she bubbled down in the opening, and the audience could feel the energy from her and the rest of the cast. When Mamie Parris (Elphaba) made her entrance, the energy level stepped up even more. Parris was amazing in “The Wizard and I” giving a powerful performance. Clarke and Parris nailed “What Is This Feeling”—plainly, they were having a lot of fun performing this evening. Paul Slade Smith (Dr. Dillamond) was strong as well with the Goat sounds and saying GGGGlinda, the best this reviewer has heard during the run of the show. “Dancing Through Life” shone as Kyle Dean Massey (Fiyero) and the cast gave a superb dance performance. Massey and Clarke played well off each other. Watching Parris enter and start to dance to no music and Clarke come over to cut in was really fun. Their performance just flowed for the rest of the number. Clarke and Parris brought it up another notch with “Popular.” Clarke appears to have taken the best of Kristin Chenoweth and Megan Hilty, in my opinion, the two best Glindas, and combines them to do this number as she adds her own touches—she is a lot of fun to watch. This evening, Parris nailed this number as well, making the toss-toss one of the funniest I have seen her do. This performance reminded me of the one in which Megan Hilty and Eden Espinosa started laughing during the number and could not stop. When Massey and Parris run off with the lion cub, they are, once again, great together. The cast’s energy level just seemed to grow from there on as the show just got better and better.  By the time Parris sings “Defying Gravity”, she is right on, the best I have heard from her so far and after being under the weather most of the week.

The Citizens of Oz opened Act 2 with as much energy as in Act 1, doing “No One Mourns The Wicked”. Parris, Cristy Candler (Nessarose) and Justin Brill (Boq) are fantastic in “The Wicked Witch of the East”. Candler is an outstanding Nessarose, powerful and at ease in the roll. When Candler fell to the ground, she did so with grace. When she said,  “No don’t help me” as she got up, she really conveyed an inner strength. Brill is so good in his roll that the audience believes he is a munchkin. When Nessarose does the spell to shrink his heart, Brill convinces the audience that it’s real. Candler has a beautiful voice and shines when she sings “Save Him”.

Mark Jacoby (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) is also really good; when he does “Wonderful” he has the audience laughing over his leg kick and foot shuffle. Jacoby brings much to the roll, a good voice that goes well Parris’s voice as they sing parts of “Wonderful” together. Likewise, Parris and Massey are well-matched as they sing ”As Long as You’re Mine”. When Parris says she feels wicked, and the two kiss, the audience goes wild.

The actors did not lose their stride when, as their characters said their good-byes to Nessarose, a child in the audience started screaming. This did not faze either of them, and Clarke and Parris kept their dialogue going as the child was taken out of the theater. The two actors also handle the fight scene really well, with convincing slaps to one another.  Clarke knows how to spin Glinda’s wand with finesse. Parris’s voice got stronger and stronger as the show went on, and she really belted out “No Good Deed”. The two were simply wonderful together performing “For Good” as the show neared the end. The whole cast put on a great performance in the final number.

I had a chance to chat with Mamie Parris (Elphaba) after the show, and I inquired if I could ask her some questions for Broadway is Wicked.  She repeated Broadway is Wicked in a very cool way and said she likes that saying. She said she and Katie were both fighting chest colds and they were trying to switch shows off so that they would not both be off for the same show. She also said she heard people in the audience coughing more, so she felt something was going around.  She added that she had a handle on it (her cold) and was feeling better now.

Ms Parris spent a nice and quiet Christmas in Los Angeles. For New Year’s she, her husband, and their dog are going to go up the coast and plan on hanging out at the beach in the sun and warm weather. She was happy to hear that out of all the shows I have seen during this run that I felt they had the most energy and were just on it today. We both said almost in unison it was like the cast was ready for the two and half days off until they are back on the stage.

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