‘Wicked’ scores with diverse crowd at Wharton Center
Empty seats were few and far between Thursday night at Wharton Center for the second day of the Broadway hit musical “Wicked.”
Hundreds filled Cobb Great Hall to see the story of Elphaba’s transformation into the Wicked Witch of the West and her relationships with the lovable Glinda and the shady Wizard of Oz.
In its 2007 East Lansing debut, “Wicked” sold out in record time and broke many box office records at the time. The play continues every day except Wednesday until the final performance on July 8.
Seats started to fill up more than 30 minutes prior to the start of the show as groups of fans both young and old piled in wave after wave. Many fans showed up in throngs of more than eight people to catch the performance.
The crowd appeared to contain a mix of seasoned fans — as evidenced by the various songs sang in unison with the actors heard throughout the audience — and newcomers to the land of Oz, such as Bath, Mich., resident Roni Christmas.
After getting positive feedback on the show from her daughter, who saw the play in New York, Christmas began to read the book and became anxious to see the live performance herself.
“It’s everything I thought it would be, so I’m very impressed,” Christmas said.
Christmas praised the performance for following the plot of the book very closely, while adding that the performances of the characters were strong and engaging.
Jeanna De Waal as Glinda and Christine Dwyer as Elphaba stole the show with outstanding performances in both singing and acting.
Battle Creek, Mich., resident Bryan Marvin returned to Wharton Center for the first time in roughly a decade to bring his daughter to the performance, which he said she is infatuated with.
“It’s (a) great (venue),” Marvin said. “A lot of the seats are good, (and) you cannot miss anything, so it’s good.”
For Connie Minarik, of Owosso, Mich., Thursday’s show offered a second chance.
“We actually went (to “Wicked”) one other time, and I fell asleep,” Minarik said. “So my boss bought (a ticket) for me as a birthday present, and I came back, and I heard everybody had gone to it and been all over it for so long.”
It would have been difficult to doze off during that performance, though, with the energy and passion from the cast seemingly matched by the crowd with every song or dramatic scene throughout the two hour and 45 minute performance.
And no bigger roar came than when De Waal and Dwyer emerged from the curtains to deliver their final bows to the audience.
“It was awesome this time,” Minarik said with a laugh.