The acclaimed Broadway show Wicked was in Philadephia this spring. A clever spin off The Wizard of Oz, Wicked follows the story of the witches of Oz as they go through magic school and search for their places in life.

Julia Murney played Elphaba, the green, passionate, brilliant Wicked Witch of the West, whose main concern is keeping justice in Oz. Her strong vocals and fiery portrayal of emotion made her unquestionably the star of the show. Kendra Kassebaum played Glinda, the adorable, ditzy Good Witch of the North who you sometimes wanted to shake and always wanted to be best friends with. Jennifer Waldman played Nessarose, the Wicked Witch of the East, who we previously only knew as the victim of a house-crushing.

The script is witty, with plenty of surprises. More than once the audience will “oooh” in unison as Wicked gives explanations for bits of the original Oz. Especially fascinating are the stories of where the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion came from, and the significance of the Ruby Slippers is truly touching. Also slipped in are fresh twists on famous phrases from the original (“Lemons and melons and pears.” “Oh my!”).

The show clearly promotes the moral of not judging others without knowing their story, but it never preaches. Mostly, it just suggests what could have been and leaves the audience to contemplate why good and bad seemed so easy to define in the original.

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