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THEATER REVIEW: “Wicked” will wow you again

Are people born wicked – or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?

Galinda’s question at the top of “Wicked” is never answered, but it doesn’t matter much in this nonstop dramatization of the Gregory Maguire novel that posits a backstory to the beloved Dorothy-and-Toto yarn.

You know it: the Wicked Witch was born Elphaba (Nicole Parker), a little girl like any other but for that unfortunate green tinge to her skin.

Quick-witted and spunky, Elphaba quickly learns what Kermit the Frog knows: It’s not easy being green. But she doesn’t get much chance to feel sorry for herself, because her wheelchair-bound sister Nessarose (Emily Ferranti) gets all the attention and care.

In fact, the only reason Elphaba is sent to school at “old Shiz” is to take care of Nessa. Imagine her consternation when Madame Morrible (Liz McCartney) splits them up and assigns Elphaba to room with the pretty, popular and (God help us) blonde Galinda (Alli Mauzey), with whom she has nothing whatever in common. Will they become friends, rivals, enemies, all three?

You know the answer. But if you’d like to see it (or see it again), know that “Wicked” is back at Civic Theatre through July 15 under the auspices of Broadway San Diego.

“Wicked” has everything that sells tickets: glitzy costumes, sets that move every which way (almost constantly), flying monkeys, a “floating” Glinda (she changes the spelling midway through the show), Stephen Schwartz’s loud, bouncy songs, fun if overdrawn characters and a sweet be-who-you-are message. That’s why it’s one of the most successful musicals of all time, breaking box-office records nationwide wherever it’s played.

It also sports a clever book by Winnie Holzman, with great lines like this: “The truth is not a thing of fact or reason; the truth is just what everyone agrees on.” And how about this: “Where I’m from, we believe in all sorts of things that aren’t true. We call it history.”

“Wicked” has everything, including a fine cast and orchestra. You won’t get much chance to stop and reflect in this show. On the other hand, there’s so much to look at that this won’t be considered a drawback by many.

In “Wicked,” blonde G(a)linda learns that sometimes being blonde isn’t enough; the Wizard learns that you can fool all of the people most of the time; and Elphaba finds that there is someone for her, after all.

It’s fun, noisy, frantic of pace, beloved by most of the theatergoing world, and plays through July 15 at Civic Theatre.

The details

“Wicked” plays through July 15 at San Diego Civic Theatre, Third and B Street, downtown.

Monday through Wednesday at 7 pm; Thursday and Friday at 7:30 pm; Saturday at 2 and 7:30 pm; Sunday at 1 and 6:30 pm.

For tickets, visit HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.