"Wicked" at Ohio Theatre

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Remember that teacher you swore had it in for you, but no one believed you? (Cough cough, Mrs. Arnett.) Maybe she really did.

"Wicked" takes us to the pre-Dorothy days in Oz, when the future Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch are students at Shiz University.

Young Elphaba - later to become known as the Wicked Witch - heads off to school to look after her disabled sister. At first the headmistress, Madame Morrible, is friendly and encourages the green-skinned girl to develop her magical powers, but later on, the school administrator is the one to give her the misnomer "Wicked Witch."

"Madame Morrible is ambitious, and she's stuck working in the school and sees Elphaba as a way to climb the power ladder," said Randy Danson, who plays Morrible in the touring Broadway Across America show. "When Elphaba doesn't want to [cooperate], she feels betrayed. She turns sour and starts manipulating everyone around her."

By exploring the backgrounds of the famous characters, "Wicked" shows us that not everything is as it seems in "Wizard of Oz"-land. Things aren't always black or white, and the Wicked Witch isn't as evil as Dorothy thinks she is.

"Does she really become wicked? What really happens is she finds her power," Danson said of Elphaba. "She's a pretty alienated person from childhood on. She becomes her own force."

Danson believes that the musical is all about "the magical exchange that happens between people in healthy relationships." She points to the unlikely friendship between Elphaba and Galinda, (who later shortens her name to Glinda), as the focal point of the play.

"What's sort of beautiful about the story is how Galinda and Elphaba both have definite talents and strengths as people and definite weaknesses," she said. "Together they enlarge each other."


Ohio Theatre

July 28-Aug. 29

39 E. State St., Downtown