‘Wicked’ takes flight at Benedum Center

Written By Hannah Walden, Co-Copy Desk Chief

While thinking of modern musical classics, Stephen Schwartz’s “Wicked” is definitely at the top of the list.

“Wicked” was shown from Jan. 29 to Feb. 11 at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.

“Wicked” takes the famous 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz” and adds a twist including a backstory for the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, told as a backstory from Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, adding a slightly different chain of events and timeline to the original story.

This wouldn’t be another modern musical classic without multiple beautiful songs throughout both acts. The most memorable would have to be “No One Mourns the Wicked,” “Popular” and “Defying Gravity,” as both main and supporting casts are filled with talented voices.

Mary Kate Morrissey as Elphaba is an amazing casting decision, as she rocks both Alto and Sorprano notes with ease during the 13 songs of the 22 total tracks, while doing duets with Ginna Claire Manson as Glinda and John Frause, an understudy during the Feb. 4 showing, as Fiyero.

Multiple elements make this musical amazing, from the interesting take on the original story to the intricate scenes filled with song and dance. Even the transitions from one scene to the next is smooth and filled with multiple moving parts as backgrounds, set pieces and people move on and off the stage in a matter of seconds.

Even the characters have goofy and quirky moments that make them memorable, like the dance in the school’s ballroom when the green-skinned Elphaba does a jerky and awkward robot dance before the rest of the students joined in and no longer viewed her as such an outcast, or when Glinda continues to call students by the wrong name, being a very empty-headed and carefree rich girl.

A combination of colorful costumes and stage lighting change the meaning and emotion behind each action and makes the characters come to life. Whether the Ozians are celebrating life in the emerald city of Oz or the disturbed and angry faces on the munchkins as they hunt down Elphaba as a mob, their faces and voices convey such powerful emotions that it could be seen and heard from the highest seating section.

The formula of flying monkeys, a compelling story and beautiful singing and dancing has been drawing in a crowd since the show started in 2003. Judging by the number of show dates and the size of crowds, “Wicked” is still a fan favorite.