A Merry “Wicked” Christmas season in LA


"Wicked" star Chandra Lee Schwartz (photo credit: Joan Marcus)

“Wicked” star Chandra Lee Schwartz (photo credit: Joan Marcus)

Theater lovers in Los Angeles are having a merry Wicked Christmas with the acclaimed Broadway musical brought back for the holiday season by “Popular” demand. And to make sure all of Santa’s Munchkin helpers can enjoy it, Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre is presenting the show well into the New Year, through March 15, 2015.

A cultural phenomenon, the musical Wicked is a story about two girls who meet in the Land of Oz. One girl, Elphaba, was born with emerald green skin. The other, Glinda, is blonde… and very popular. How these two grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good makes for one of the best musicals of this generation, with songs such as “Popular,” “Defying Gravity,” and “For Good.”

Stars have emerged from the Wicked cast over the years, including Kristin Chenoweth (Glee), Idina Menzel (Frozen), and Megan Hilty (Smash). In the current Pantages production the leading players could proudly take their place among them, with Chandra Lee Schwartz as the ultra-perky hair-tossing Glinda. And stepping into the spotlight on opening night, Emmy Raver-Lampman, who replaced the originally scheduled Emma Hunton as Elphaba. Emmy was listed as the “standby” performer for Elphaba. Well she may have walked out on stage a “standby,” but she ended the night “Defying Gravity,” becoming a star who showcased her talent and received thunderous ovations. She was believable as the girl who didn’t fit in, transforming into a powerful force that had – as the song goes—“a celebration throughout Oz that was all about me [her].”

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Terrific performances were also given by the supporting players. Nick Adams was the heartbreaker Fiyero; Jenny Florkowski as tragic Nessarose; Kim Zimmer (of Guiding Light fame) became a menacing Madame Morrible; and Etai BenShlomo was the heartbroken Munchkin Boq. Tim Kazurinsky added a wicked flair to his “not so” Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Credit should always go to the music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, with book by Winnie Holzman, for the musical based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, “Wicked: the untold story of the Witches of Oz.” Visit www.HollywoodPantages.com. #

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.