By Leah Wright | Photos Courtesy Joan Marcus
Brentwood’s own Ginna Claire Mason made a triumphant return to Middle Tennessee, this time appearing as Glinda in Wicked at Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Her performance is reminiscent of Kristin Chenowith, who made the role famous on Broadway, but Ginna Claire brings her own charm and innocence into the character. The nuances of her mannerisms are stunning and she is an absolute delight to watch. She brings an immense amount of enjoyment and humor to the role and has the audience erupting into laughter in nearly every scene.
Joining Ginna Claire on stage is Mary Kate Morrissey, who perfectly portrays Elphaba. Her sarcastic movements and facial expressions are perfectly timed and frame this misunderstood character who was so easy to hate in the Wizard of Oz stories we all know and love. Elphaba demonstrates a strength throughout the production that lets everyone know she is not one to be pushed around and she is in control of her own life. We learn there is much more to the story of Elphaba than previously known and much more to the woman herself than we could have imagined.
Together, Ginna Claire and Mary Kate (pictured above) are a perfect mix of perky/snarky, light/dark, and good/evil. Their personalities clash while somehow also providing the perfect compliment to their counterpart. They grow and mature in their roles, and absolutely astound the audience with their voices. The theater erupts into frenzied applause at the conclusion of the de facto theme song, Defying Gravity, previously made famous by Idina Menzel. When the two women harmonize together, they become even stronger as one.
Two other standouts are Boq, played by Cole Doleman (right), and Madame Morrible, played by Jody Gelb. Cole is delightful as the love-struck Boq and makes you hope the best for his character while also wanting to give him a huge warm hug. A seasoned Broadway veteran, Jody portrays Madame Morrible with a sophistication expected from an actor of her caliber. Collectively, these two characters were perfect accompaniments to Glinda and Elphaba.
The set, while simplistic in some ways, is quite complex in others. It is designed in such a way that makes transitions nearly seamless and includes details like steampunk gears on various set pieces and an elaborate control center for the Wizard’s throne. Other areas of the set contain simplistic elements that provide the basic requirements, but without taking away from the more complex areas that deserve more attention. All of it put together makes the set cohesive, yet not too distracting, so the focus is on the characters and their story.
Aside from the delightful characters, beautiful set, and amazing soundtrack, Wicked is a story of love, hope, tolerance, and acceptance. While on the surface it seems nothing more than a fun production, there are several lessons to be learned from it, and many opportunities for discussion. As a social construct, it may be a bit unconventional to some, but overall, Wicked is perfect for so many reasons.
Who: Wicked The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz
What: “WICKED, the Broadway sensation, looks at what happened in the Land of Oz… but from a different angle.”
Where: Tennessee Performing Arts Center: Andrew Jackson Hall – 505 Deaderick St., Nashville
When: March 28 – April 22, 2018
Why: “From the first electrifying note to the final breathtaking moment, WICKED—the untold true story of the Witches of Oz—transfixes audiences with its wildly inventive story. It will send your spirits soaring to heights you’ll never forget.”
How: For more information & to purchase tickets, please visit: https://www.tpac.org/event/2018-03-28-to-2018-04-22-wicked/.