There are a lot of people who like this show—the Broadway production, which opened last year, has attracted legions of teenage girls as repeat attendees. Plenty more audiences who have yet to see this “Wizard of Oz” prequel will walk away equally satisfied; ticket sales are soaring for the brief Chicago tour stop as well as the sit-down run beginning next month, which will have an entirely different cast led by former SNLer Ana Gasteyer. So let’s just assume that no one really cares about the reviews—if you’re gonna go, you’re gonna go, regardless of what any critic has to say. But, here goes, anyway: Packed tight with more power ballads than you can shake an American Idol at, “Wicked” feels like a multiple-personality tornado of theatrical hooey. It is a dippy show, in the tradition of other dippy shows like Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” At its most entertaining, the show skewers teenage cattiness in this back story of the two iconic witches: the Wicked Witch of the West, known in her nerdy, beleaguered teenage form as Elphaba (a roaringly strong and human performance by Stephanie J. Block underneath all that green makeup), and her perky nemesis-turned-best-friend-turned-nemesis, Glinda the Good (Kendra Kassebaum as the girlie-girl who puts the “irk” in perky.) Roommates at boarding school, they bond over makeovers as Glinda flitters about in a number aptly titled, “Popular.” (The book is by Winnie Holzman, of “My So-Called Life.”) Appealing and earthy in her role as the ultimate misunderstood outsider, Block is an actress you’ll remember long after this show. But Kassebaum works the real comedic magic here, giving a performance that brings to mind a spoiled Chihuahua with bouncy blonde curls. She’d look perfect under Paris Hilton’s arm. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.