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DALLAS  |  MORE Arrow
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Musical Theater Review: Wicked Presented by Dallas Summer Musicals

Amanda Jane Cooper and Emily Koch provide strong comedic fervor to the already-funny classic script to make the show even more 'thrillifying.'

Musical Theater Review of Wicked at Dallas Summer Musicals at the Musical Hall at Fair Park

Posted 4/23/16 | © Photo by Joan Marcus

You've heard the expression, It's not what you say; it's how you say it, right? Well, that's precisely the concept making all the difference in the second national tour of the mega-smash-hit musical Wicked, currently running at Dallas Summer Musicals.


Despite the fact that many theatergoers may be expecting to slide easily into that cozy sense of familiarity with this iconic one-of-a-kind show (which has won over 100 major international awards including 3 Tony Awards), other hard-core fans are simultaneously hoping for a little extra pizzazz this time around. But rest assured that both groups are likely to be well pleased.


Along with the addition of new special effects designed to *hint* 'blow you away,' this spectacular production still offers the same over-the-top scenic design (with a giant mechanical smoke-snorting Time Dragon looming above the stage, famous circus-inspired talking Oz head, and elaborate clock motif). And in addition to a phenomenal cast of colorful characters (dressed in over 200 exquisite costumes each with a distinctive twisted Edwardian design), an assortment of captivating songs still hold intact the same wildly-entertaining storyline about two unlikely friends who grow to become the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West Elphaba and the immensely popular Glinda the Good.


In a well-executed example of looking at things another way though, lead actresses Amanda Jane Cooper and Emily Koch provide the major differentiating impact on this leg of what has been deemed the Munchkinland Tour. Bringing an even-more-intense comedic fervor to the already well-established script, Cooper is perfectly quirky as the endearingly narcissistic Glinda and uniquely hilarious in an Elle Woods 'slash' Rachel Dratch sort of way; while Koch (whose speaking voice has characteristics similar to that of a young Judy Garland) lends a nostalgic authenticity to the show as a whole from her role as Elphaba. Playing the pragmatic straight-man Abbott to Cooper's Costello, Koch offers the necessary balance of edgy, sarcastically dry humor (think Amy Farrah Fowler 'slash' Max from Two Broke Girls) that keeps audiences snickering throughout.


Though often considered to be a behind-the-scenes type of prequel to Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the story (adapted from the novel Wicked by Gregory Macguire) actually takes place before, during, and after Dorothy and Toto drop in. With everything slightly askew from the downbeat of the music when the monkeys come out, Cooper and Koch play the two Ozian witches who meet in college and share not only a dorm room but also a common love interest in the hunky yet scandalacious Fiyero (Jake Boyd). Madame Morrible (Wendy Worthington), the strict sorcery-teaching headmistress at Shiz University, finds herself in cahoots with the unscrupulous and exploitative Wizard (Stuart Zagnit) and his monkey servant Chistery (Ben Susak) while Elphaba's tragically-beautiful sister Nessarose (Megan Masako Haley) possessively falls in love with adorable Munchkin Boq (Sam Seferian). Meanwhile, actor Chad Jennings sympathetically humanizes Dr. Dillamond, a talking goat whose dismissal as the school's last remaining animal instructor becomes the focus of a discourse on social equality and political corruption.



Like Glinda's first-impression observation of Elphaba, the musical Wicked is unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe, but there's no doubt that audiences continue to thoroughly enjoy Stephen Schwartz's collection of hairbrush-in-the-mirror hits which rolled out in succession with highlights being Koch's impressive Defying Gravity (powerfully belted out broom-in-hand while being dramatically hoisted into the air high above the stage floor) coupled with Cooper's highly-amusing rendition of the bubble-gummy Popular.


We won't spoil the story's plot intricacies and the surprise twist ending; but Wikipedia has a great complete synopsis if you're interested, although we recommend skipping the last paragraph under Act II if you want to wait for the show to find out how things turn out. There are still great seats available for this fantastically Ozmopolitan event which runs through Sunday, May 22, 2016 at the Music Hall at Fair Park with tickets ranging from $40.00-$179.00 (any of those prices, in our opinion, being completely reasonable for a show of this quality). Dallas Summer Musicals is also hosting a ticket lottery; so two and half hours before each performance, people who present themselves at the Music Hall box office can have their names placed in a lottery drum from which names will be drawn for a limited number of orchestra (floor level) seats at $25 each (cash only, valid photo ID required, limit two tickets per person).


See additional information below or visit:

Wicked | National Tour

RELATED STORIES

Making Wicked Tick

ARTS | TIPS

Steve Quinn, company manager for the smash-hit musical Wicked, gives behind-the-scenes insights about what makes this elaborate production tick.

Dallas Summer Musicals

ARTS | VENUE

DSM is the largest producer of live theatrical entertainment in the Southwest and the second oldest summer theater organization in the United States.
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