WICKED lands in Memphis for two weeks of fantastic Broadway

There are very few musicals I love as much as Wicked.  The show took time to grow on me but what ultimately won me over was Kristin Chenoweth’s winning, brilliant performance of Glenda which was so energetic, manic and hilarious that you couldn’t resist her.  If you’re reading this, you don’t need me to tell you how Wicked made Idina Menzel and Kristin Broadway superstars.  But you’re probably wondering: Does the touring version currently parked at the Orpheum in Memphis hold up just as well?

The answer is an emphatic hell yes.  It actually went beyond my expectations.  This version of Wicked is directed by Joe Mantello and it has captured so much of the magic from the original.  Wicked, for those uninitiated, tells the story of Elphaba, who you probably know as the Wicked Witch of the West.  Only Wicked asks that you discard what you think you know about Elphaba and learn a different side to her story. Elphaba actually wasn’t all that bad.  In fact, Elphaba was actually just really, really misunderstood. She loved animals! She was an academic and an activist in the making! Glenda is actually the witch you should be wary of.  America’s Sweethearts always are.

wicked, touring, broadway, memphis
Photo by Joan Marcus

Of course, Wicked wants this story to be about sisterhood.  And in some ways it is.  But Wicked is also about misconceptions – it asks us to think about the people we mock or exclude and encourages us to listen to them.  Maybe we’re not that different.  Glenda has to learn how to be less selfish and self-absorbed, while Elphaba has to learn how to let people in and be more vulnerable.  Both girls deserve a closer look at their complexities.  There is no clear cut good witch/ bad witch in Wicked.  Along the way audiences are treated to some spectacular music, too. An obvious stand out is “Defying Gravity” which has the most spectacular light show you’ll see in Memphis in 2018.  Also noteworthy is “Popular” which Ginna Claire Mason deliciously performs.  At times Mason is such a dead ringer for Chenoweth that it’s as if she’s studied her for hours on end to perfect every syllable.  She knows what you came for and she’s here to deliver it.  Mary Kate Morrissey’s Elphaba is slightly more awkward than Menzel’s and she goes to great lengths to make Elphaba her own. Morrissey’s Elphaba is also pretty beautiful and fierce in her own green way.  In a post-Gaga Born This Way world, Elphaba actually doesn’t even seem that strange.

The National Touring Company of WICKED. Photo by Joan Marcus (2017) 2_preview
The wonderful Oz, photo by Joan Marcus

There are still problems with Wicked (an unnecessary and thankless munchkin character that deserves to be written out, plus Glenda’s sudden forgiveness arc) but that’s no fault of the touring company.  The stage production is one of the best I’ve seen all season and the costumes designed by Susan Hilferty are impeccable.  Also worth noting is that this stop welcomes nine local musicians who will be playing in all performances in Memphis.  Wicked is undoubtably one of the best shows you’ll see this year – or ever?? If I’m being honest – so make plans to go see this while it’s in town.  You will not regret it. And you’ll learn how to be popu-larr.

If you want a shot at winning $25 tickets, arrive at the Orpheum 2.5 hours before showtime and enter your name in a lottery.  Winners will be drawn 2 hours to curtain and winners must pay in cash.  If you want to purchase your tickets the old fashion way…. Tickets can be purchased on the Orpheum’s website. 


5 thoughts on “WICKED lands in Memphis for two weeks of fantastic Broadway

  1. I saw Wicked four times.

    2006: I was 12 and that was my first time seeing Wicked. I was in NYC with my mom and she took me to see Wicked. Little did I know the impact Wicked would have on my life. It would end up sparking my love of musicals. This is where I learned the emotional and complex side of musical.

    Don’t remember when the 2nd time was.

    2013: my 3rd time. I didn’t go just because it was touring. I went because my dad still hadn’t seen it. Funny story: before the show began, the tallest guy in the auditorium sat in front of me and my dad switched seats and gave me the better seat. My dad realized during my 3rd time why I love it so much.

    2016: my 4th time. I went because my school was taking a group of students to see it. This was when the show was the most mature and the emotions ran deeper than ever before. My Elphaba was Mary Kate Morrisey, who was a standby at the time, Glinda was Amanda Jane Copper and Fiyero was Ashley Parker Angel. Those 3 characters are the ones I pay the most attention to since they are the ones I am emotionally attached.

    This year marks 12 years since I first tell in love with it and even though it is not a milestone year, I was 12 when I first fell with it so it is interesting how the two match. Still cannot believe I have loved Wicked for a little over 10 years.


      1. It is. I loved seeing the musical grow over the years. My knowledge of these characters has grown over the years, but the characters I have paid the most attention to are Elphaba, Fiyero and Glinda, the only characters I have an emotional connection to in the musical.

        Elphaba is my favorite musical characters. I love how the center of this musical is the friendship found between Glinda and Elphaba. I love how the love triangle between these two girls and Fiyero helps add texture to the plot. Those are the main storylines I spend the most time with.


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