Friday, September 30, 2011

Atlanta's Own Broadway

I've known about the historic Fox Theater On Peachtree Street for a while but hadn't had the opportunity to see a show there—until last night when my friend Mike from work took me, along with his son and daughter-in-law, to see Wicked. It was a show I was familiar with, after living in direct view of the massive 30' tall Wicked ad outside my apartment window at the Gershwin when I lived in NYC during 2005; I was on 50th Street across from that theater.

My introduction to the interior of the Fox theater was a view of the fabulous starry ceiling as I stepped up the carpeted steps toward the entrance to our seating area. The sky was an expansive, realistic dusk-blue that, for a split second, made me think I was approaching an outdoor theater. I knew it wasn't, by this sky is so convincing that I had to take a double-take.

After I sat down, I looked around and thought, "Man, this is the biggest theater I've ever been in...with the possible exception of Radio City Music Hall." And it is. The Fox seats nearly 5,000 people. And last night's show had a full house.

The friends I was with were a blast. We had a lot of laughs during dinner before walking over to the Fox, just a few blocks from my office. Topping off a fun dinner was a fantastic show!

The performance was incredible, with the actress playing the Wicked Witch, Elphaba, stealing the show. Her voice was stunning, and her harmony with Good Witch Glinda was unbelievable. The set was obviously expensive—very extravagant. My sister told me today that shows like that arrive at the theater in multiple semi-trucks requiring extensive unloading and setup.

But, along with the performance was the ingenius story line. If you aren't familiar with Wicked the musical, it is based on Gregory Maguire's 1995 book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. I started the book about four years ago but never finished it. Wizard of Oz fans will love the tale, which describes how the wicked witch came to be killed by Dorothy.

Or was she? Was Glinda really a good witch? Was Elphaba born wicked, or did she have wickedness thrust upon her? How did the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion come to be? Did the wicked witch cast those spells? Who was Wizard of Oz? Who did the house really fall on, and why? How did the flying monkies get their wings?

These and other questions are answered in Wicked. I highly recommend it. The twists and surprises and one-liners will entertain everyone. It offers a whole new perspective on a long-held view of what we all know well as the story of Oz. It is so neat to think of Oz in a new light, and that's what made this show really special. For baby boomers and their parents, this story fills in the gaps. It adds intrigue, excitement, and background to one of the best movies of all time.

The show was more than a treat. I warn you, it is a long show of nearly three hours. By intermission time at 9:30 I was approaching my normal bedtime. By 10PM (after a 10-hour work day), I was pooped. But I continued to enjoy the show, right up to the impactful finale. But that's all I'll say. You gotta see it yourself!