January 2, 2016
If ever there was a time to step out for a night at the theater in Charlotte, January 6 to 31 is that time. The Munchkinland Tour of Wicked will be in town bringing beauty, magic and wonder to the Ovens Auditorium.
You know that Wicked is a hit. You know that it’s one of the most acclaimed musicals ever. Maybe you’ve even seen it before. After all, it’s been on stages since 2003 with shows touring since 2005. It’s even graced Charlotte a few times, most recently in 2013.
But what is it that makes Wicked so popular and why does it gain new fans and draw audiences back time and again?
“People really resonate with the story because, yes, it’s in a fictional setting, but all of the storylines are based in reality,” says Amanda Jane Cooper, who plays Glinda in this year’s tour. “The themes are very universal: friendship, not judging a person based on appearance, forgiveness, choosing to do what’s right. It’s very human and I think it touches the heart because it’s just so truthful. It keeps people enthralled night after night,” she adds.
Still not sure whether Wicked is up your alley? It’s likely a good match for you if:
1.) You love the supernatural.
One word: witches. The story is about witches! Granted, you’re not going to get the blood-splattering gore that comes with vampires or the weird love/hate relationship you may have formed with zombies (are those supernatural or just unnatural?), but you’ll get to experience some magic and see the backstory of how the witches of Oz came to be.
2.) You’re looking for a musical the entire family can enjoy.
Some musicals just don’t hold the attention of everyone in the family. Themes can be too mature or deep, or book and music are a little too cutesy. Wicked strikes a balance that makes it perfect for the entire family.
“Everybody comes to see Wicked,” Cooper explains. “Parents, grandparents, singles, kids … people from all walks of life. And everyone enjoys it for different reasons. The diversity is so exciting!”
3.) You’re a music connoisseur.
Well, Wicked is a musical, so you know there will be music. But there’s a reason why Stephen Schwartz’s music in this has won a Grammy and been nominated for a variety of other awards. Plainly put, the music and lyrics are more than just notable; they’re phenomenal. Even the most highbrow music snob will find them suitable for a night out.
4.) You’re a romantic.
Like every well-loved musical, Wicked has a love story embedded in the plot. Never considered romance and witches simultaneously? Everybody needs a little love in their lives, and this part of the narrative thread unfolds gracefully, giving depth and dimension to the characters involved.
5.) You love a good competition.
Whether you prefer to cheer for the underdog or the heavily-favored, you’ll have a great time picking a side to root for while you watch this musical. Competition definitely comes into play, and sometimes in the most unpredictable ways.
6.) You like events with a Charlotte connection.
Cast members of any musical bring their own backgrounds and experiences to their roles, giving each show a different nuance. Each cast member has a their own backstory. Cooper’s backstory includes a Charlotte connection.
“The music teacher who directed the first ever musical I was in as a child, Steamboatin’ as a fifth grader in Pennsylvania now resides in Charlotte,” Cooper shares. “Her name is Mrs. Messner and she was the first person who ever gave me a shot and I got to play Steamboat Sal. I’m excited to get to be on stage there in Charlotte where she is.”
7.) You enjoy life-changing experiences.
Okay, this one may feel like a stretch, but hang in there. Any arts aficionado can tell you that art done well changes people’s lives.
Cooper remembers, “When I saw the show back in 2003, my heart certainly grew and I was propelled to examine my life and ask questions and hold my friends tighter … and to hold more value for human life.”
The vibe and energy that transmit through a theater when Wicked is performed affect the audience, even if only for a couple of hours. More likely, though, the music and messages presented will resonate long after you exit the venue.
“My hope for audiences as they leave is that they leave with a renewed sense of hope and to walk away with bigger hearts,” says Cooper. “And they’ll definitely laugh their butts off and be thrilled and have an epic experience, too!”
Catch showtimes for Wicked on January 6 – 31 at Ovens Auditorium.