Niagara Gazette — Long before Dorothy and Toto landed in Oz, there were two friends who eventually become known as Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.
Back by popular demand, Shea’s is again hosting the popular musical that details the story of their friendship, “Wicked,” with music and lyrics written by Stephen Schwartz, throughout the month of January.
“This is the most requested show among our patrons,” said Shea’s Performing Arts Center President Anthony Conte, “and we are thrilled to be able to present such a wonderful production that attracts such a wide audience.’
The performance draws from the classic “Wizard of Oz” story everyone knows and loves, but adds a few new twists and themes.
“ ‘Wicked’ is really about friendship and good and evil,” said Kathy Fizgerald, who will be playing Madame Morrible in the show. “They portray Elphaba, (the main character), as evil and its about these girls and seeing that what you think is evil isn’t necessarily evil.”
Fitzgerald, who got her start performing a one-woman show in Arizona, has been on the Broadway scene for the past 30 years. She has been portraying the character of Madame Morrible in “Wicked” since the summer of 2010.
Her character is one that sees some changes throughout the play, Fitzgerald says that those changes can be documented throughout by dramatic changes in her character’s make-up and costumes. This, she says, plays into the musical’s theme of the illusion of evil.
“(Madame Morrible) starts off as sort of a sweet schoolmarm type, it takes a while to learn that she’s evil,” Fitzgerald explained. “As the play progresses she’s awful and horrible and power hungry. I think she also realizes she’s the meanest one out there making it hard on the girls.”
By the time “Wicked” comes to an end, she added, her character’s costume has completely changed, from soft and sweet to an almost military-like look. At this point she says Morrible’s only focus is to get to the top, no matter what.
The musical is based on a 1995 novel called “The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West,” by author Gregory Maguire. It was written to be a parallel to Frank Baum’s 1900 classic “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
It tells the story of how the Wicked Witch of the West got that nickname and it brings to light the journey shared by Glinda and Elphaba that lead them down their separate paths. “Wicked” offers an interpretation of why Oz was in the state it was when Dorothy and Toto got there.
“It’s about friendship,” Fitzgerald said. “At they end when they sing ‘For Good’ it really makes you think about and treasure your own friendships.”
The story is carried forward, according to Fitzgerald, by how well the songs and the story work well together. She added that the characters are so deep and different, and the world of Oz so fascinating, that she never gets sick of hearing the songs.
“Wicked,” is celebrating its 10th anniversary, having opened on Broadway on Oct. 30, 2003. Since its premiere, “Wicked” has become known as one of Broadway’s biggest hits, selling out performances around the world.
The show runs through Jan. 26 and there are plenty of tickets still available. For information on how to get yours, visit www.sheas.org.