March 16-22, 2006
Arts : ArtpicksNo Rest for the Wicked
"It's not easy being green," a famous frog once opined, and Elphaba, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West, might very well agree. She's the heroine, along with goody-goody Glinda, of the 2003 musical Wicked, the phenomenally successful (10 Tony Award nominations, three wins) adaptation of Gregory Maguire's 1995 novel by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman. The national tour sweeps into town next week for a brief engagement that's already nearly sold out.
Maguire's prequel to Frank L. Baum's classic The Wizard Of Oz creates the witches' pre-Dorothy travails. Before becoming enemies, persecuted Elphaba (Julia Murney) and pretentious Glinda (Kendra Kassebaum) are best buds and witches-in-training at Shiz University, where they meet Madame Morrible, Dr. Dillamond (a talking goat), Prince Fiyero and, of course, the Wizard himself.
"If every musical had the brain, the heart, and the courage of Wicked," Time magazine gushed, "Broadway would really be a magical place." Those preferring the technicolor land of Oz over black-and-white Kansas should check out Maguire's Wicked sequels Son of a Witch, now in stores, and The Witch Is Back, due in the fall.
Wicked, Wed., March 22, 7:30 p.m., $28-$87.50, through April 9, The Academy of Music, Broad and Locust sts., 215-893-1999, www.kimmelcenter.org.