"Wicked" debuted Wednesday at the Performing Arts Center in North Charleston. The national tour of the hit Broadway musical runs through April 29 at the Colliseum. Tickets are still available and range $50 to $100.
Here are my impressions after enjoying Thursday's evening show.
In brief: "Wicked" is the prequel to the classic movie "The Wizard of Oz." The hit Broadway musical promises audiences the story before Dorothy dropped in, and since 2003 it has won raves as a staple of the Broadway scene.
It's a comedic musical that delivers messages about getting what you want, vanity, good and evil and a healthy dose of political commentary throughout. The musical features familiar faces, such as Glinda, the Wicked Witch and the flying monkeys. The tail of the Cowardly Lion also makes a cameo.
This national tour is criss-crossing the country with a full scale production with all the technological bells and whistles you'd expect on Broadway, along with a very talented cast.
What I loved: The set is absolutely amazing. Prepare to be dazzled from the moment you sit down with a show curtain that is aglow with a map of Oz. It begs for closer inspection, and I wish there was a version I could have seen up close.
"Wicked" isn't predictable, as you might expect. You think you know how it ends, but there are surprises.
The costumes are too cool, and the plot is interesting. It manages to wrap up all the loose ends without ever actually showing the familiar Dorothy and Toto. Anne Brummel (Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West), Tiffany Haas (Glinda the Good) and Jody Gelb (Madame Morrible) deliver solid performances, as they should.
Picking nits: Though the three actors mentioned before delivered compelling performances, the rest of the principles were just OK. I wasn't wowed by the dancing, but I don't think I was supposed to be.
I thought the big dragon head that hangs over the audience was a little odd and didn't seem integrated into the show, since it only became animated a handful of times. I only mention it because it's so cool, I'd like to see it used more.
The interesting dialect used in Oz was obviously written for laughs, but I thought a lot of it was lost simply because the actors weren't heard or because they weren't accentuating a part of the script meant for chuckles.
Who will love it: If you love a splashy musical, this is it. There is no detail spared, and you will be wowed by all the glitzy stage lights. It's funny and cute, and would be great for kids, oldsters and anyone in between.
Who won't like it: If you're a music snob, I don't know that "Wicked's" music is anything that delivers wows by the minute. I felt like I had already seen most of the strongest moments in the local TV ads for the show.
Final verdict: "Wicked" is great. I wanted to see it on Broadway in a recent trip to New York, but I went for a more budget-friendly show. I was glad to get this opportunity to see it at home, and I'd go back, and I recommend it. There were a few performance issues, but nothing that spoiled the overall experience.