And you thought Glinda the Good Witch was such a nice girl.
Sorry to burst her magical bubble, but that’s just one myth that will be shattered when “Wicked” lands at the State Theatre this month. The Tony-winning musical, based on the 1995 best seller by Gregory Maguire, serves as a sort of prequel to the film classic “The Wizard of Oz” by explaining what went wrong between Glinda and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, before Dorothy dropped in on them. Kendra Kassebaum, who created the role of Glinda in the national touring production, describes the result as a story of adventure and mystery.
“What is this about? What has happened? You don’t know,” she says. “You judge these people before you know their histories.”
All of the ingredients needed to brew up a nasty rivalry are present when the two wannabe witches meet at Shiz University. Glinda is privileged and pretty. Elphaba is smart and passionately idealistic but awkward — she was born with emerald skin. The two young women manage to overcome their initial dislike of each other and strike up a friendship. Elphaba requests that Glinda be permitted to study sorcery with her. And Glinda attempts to school Elphaba in the ways of becoming more popular. But the relationship sours, in part because of both women’s infatuation with a roguish prince named Fiyero. Kassebaum admits that Glinda reacts like many women do when they’re battling for a man’s affections.
“A lot of young girls relate to it,” she says. “There are tears in the audience every night. There is laughter in the audience every night. There are gasps of discovery. You run the gamut of emotions through the whole show.”
And along the way, the audience discovers how Glinda became the witch they know and love.
— Lynne Thompson
“Wicked” will be at the State Theatre from June 21 to July 9. For tickets, call (216) 241-6460 or visit www.tickets.com.