‘Wicked’ proves a magical experience

Anne Brummel (left) stars as Elphaba and Tiffany Haas is Glinda in the touring production of “Wicked.”

The witches of Oz have flown into the North Charleston Performing Arts Center for a nearly two-week engagement in the touring production of “Wicked.”

The PAC has been transformed into the magical land of Oz, complete with Munchkinland and the Yellow Brick Road.

“Wicked” tells the story of Elphaba and Glinda before Dorothy and before they became their more famous alter egos — the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good.

The 2,300-seat venue was near capacity, and the characters in the crowd were just as much a part of the experience.

Theatergoers young and old showed up in elaborate costumes and greeted each other in the lobby as if they had known each other for years. They had only just met.

As audience members entered the auditorium, the stage already had been brought to life by a red-eyed, smoke-breathing dragon hovering above the stage.

The scene was complete with a glittering map of Oz, and even the ushers were adorned with green bow ties.

As the first round of Munchkins jumped and danced on stage, the excitement of the evening really set in. Soon entered Glinda (played by Tiffany Haas), floating down from above on her make-shift bubble. They rejoiced — the Wicked Witch was dead.

As the cast started into the first number, “No One Mourns the Wicked,” Haas got off to a shaky start.

One theatergoer said that some of her notes were so high-pitched that she had a hard time understanding what was being sung.

That proved to be the only stumble in what was an otherwise stellar production, led by Anne Brummel as Elphaba.

By the end of the first act, Brummel reminded us all that the Wicked Witch was worth rooting for in her amazing rendition of “Defying Gravity.”

The end of the song has Brummel flying high above the stage bringing to life the tragic split of the friendship between her and Glinda.

For fans of the Gregory Maguire novel upon which “Wicked” is based, the production throws in a bit of twist at the end. It’s enough to make this show a different story in its own right.

Directed by Joe Mantello with musical staging by Wayne Cilento, the Tony- and Grammy Award-winning blockbuster will be at the Performing Arts Center through April 29.

Reach Features Editor Laura J. Gough at 937-5703 or facebook.com/LauraJGoughFeatures.