I caught Dallas Summer Musicals production of Wicked at Fair Park Music Hall on Wednesday. I had heard nothing but glowing reviews of this show, and I was very excited.
Stephanie J. Block was brilliant as the green-skinned Elphaba, who is much more misunderstood than wicked. Her singing was extraordinary and may actually have surpassed that of Idina Menzel, who originally played the role on Broadway. Kendra Kassebaum was fine as Galinda/Glinda, but she seemed out of her league vocally compared to Broadway's original, Kristin Chenoweth, and she paled in comparison to Block. Kassebaum's over-the-top antics and physicality were also a little distracting at times.
I was looking forward to Carol Kane in the role of Madame Morrible, but she actually didn't pull it off for me. At times, she was difficult to understand (which may have had more to do with the terirble acoustics in the Music Hall than anything else), and I thought the character should have been a touch more sinister.
David Garrison (Steve Rhoades from TV's "Married With Children") was fine as the Wizard. Jenna Leigh Green (Libby Chessler on "Sabrina the Teenaged Witch") turned in a solid performance as Nessarose, Elphaba's sister, and I was pleasantly surprised with her singing.
Boq was played by Logan Lipton. His performance was unremarkable except for the mic problems he had in Act II (unfortunately, at a critical juncture). Derrick Williams' portrayal of Fiyero was high-quality.
Unfortunately for all the other actors, though, nobody could match the sheer power of Block's Elphaba.
I enjoyed the production of The Producers that came to DSM earlier this year more than this show, but Wicked was a better overall production. The Producers made me laugh almost non-stop, but Wicked can actually make you stop and think.
SPOILER WARNING--DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DO NOT WANT ANY OF THE PLOT SPOILED
I don't think the musical had to follow Gregory Maguire's book completely, and I understand the decision to have Boq become the Tin Man. I can even accept that Fiyero becomes the Scarecrow. What really drew the air out of the show for me was the "happy ending" that was added. For me, the story is much more poignant if Elphaba is dead, and having her and Fiyero/Scarecrow go off into hiding just seems cheap.