Natalie Daradich and Vicki Noon in Wicked

‘Wicked’ flies high on talent and effects

It’s got amazing special effects, catchy show-stopping tunes, a multi-talented cast and costumes, and lighting and sets that dazzle the eyes. Oh my!

It’s “Wicked” the award winning Broadway musical that tells the story of the two witches of Oz and how they got there. So catch a ride on a flying broomstick (or flying monkey) to see another side to the Emerald City.

“Wicked,” based on the 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire, focuses on the relationship between Elphaba, who is green-skinned at birth, an outsider at school and the future Wicked Witch of the West, and Galinda, who becomes Glinda – the Good Witch of the North.

The story references Dorothy before and during her travels through Oz, where it turns out that all is not well. The Wizard is a corrupt public official (what else is new?) and Elphaba suffers discrimination due to her skin color.

The plot is complex and, at times, confusing – with a number of subplots: Both witches love the same man. Animals can speak and there’s a subversive political attempt to silence them. Elphaba’s sister is confined to a wheelchair. And their father, the Governor of Oz, likes sis best.

Fortunately, the show’s songs, acting and special effects more than make up for the muddle. Stephen Schwartz (“Godspell,” “Pippin”) has created some memorable tunes, especially the Act 1 finale “Defying Gravity” and “For Good,” the beautiful ballad about the bond of enduring friendship.

But it is the two actresses who inhabit the witches’ roles that make “Wicked” worth the effort. Amid a talented ensemble of actors, Vicki Noon captures the heart of the audience as Elphaba, her outward appearance disappearing into an inner strength and a vocal prowess that rises above the ever-present din of discrimination. As Glinda, Natalie Daradich is a comical delight to watch – her impish, cutesy moves providing comic relief against the background of growing discord in Oz.

As both witches sing to each other, “because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” And in way, so has the audience seeing this magical production.

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