Reviewed by Jonathan Shuffield
As the country begins to lift mask mandates, we cautiously begin to step back out into the sunlight….or the moonlight as it were. Cities are beginning to wake up and are calling for people to engage again. This is an uncertain, yet pivotal time in our communities. A city is only as healthy as the willingness of its citizens to open their wallets and participate in its culture. After two years locked away, with some businesses shuttering their storefronts, people scared of what the outside world could bring, we are given a hesitant green light to get back to life. For me, this means live theatre!
Did you know that according to Playbill.com there will be close to 50 national tours of hit Broadway shows traveling the country in the 2022-2023 theatrical season? With the reopening of Broadway in the summer of 2021, its successful re-emergence depends on these shows. Traveling shows, or bus-and-truck shows as they have been known, are the arteries feeding the beating heart of Broadway. If you are lucky enough to live in one of the major cities in your state that hosts them, they will be worth every penny you spend to fill a seat. Honestly, the only way to keep these shows coming back to your town is to do just that, show them the money.
For the first time in two years, I took myself to the theatre. I am lucky enough to live in one of these towns. What better way to come back than to catch the National Tour of Wicked. In the 19 years since it debuted on Broadway, I somehow have never seen it. An amazing and still relevant tale of the prejudice, fear-mongering, propaganda-driven response to controlling the masses…..set to music! It’s also the back story to what really created the beloved characters of The Wizard of Oz, based on the best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire.
If you are worried about the caliber of the show you will see, a national tour has to go through the same audition process and rehearsal expectations of the shows that play in the 41 Broadway theatre in New York City itself. I caught the tour on its stop in Spokane, WA at the First Interstate Center For the Arts. From the minute I walked through those doors it was an experience. You could feel the buzz in the air as I floated through the lobby, grabbed myself a cocktail, and looked over the crowd. The city showed up, apparently just as hungry as I was for a night of theatre, the place was packed. Mask mandate still in place, the theatre staff made it feel like a safe and inviting time for everyone.
With beautiful performances from Allison Bailey as Glinda, Talia Suskauer as Elphaba, Jordan Litz as Fiyero, and a stand out for me, Lisa Howard as Madame Morrible I did not for one second feel like I was receiving the knock off version of this legendary Broadway show. I believe it is very important to celebrate the work these individuals put into these huge stage productions and the venues that open their doors to host them. If you get a chance to see the national tour of Wicked when it comes to a city near you, I highly recommend you go. Not only will you be met with this amazing story and beautiful music, but you will be helping your city slowly come back to life.
If you are in Spokane, WA you can catch Wicked at the First Interstate Center For the Arts through March 27th.