Totally ‘Wicked’ Broadway show comes to Richmond

Tiffany Haas as Galinda and Anne Brummel as Elphaba in Broadway in Richmond's production of “Wicked” at the Landmark Theater. Image courtesy of Broadway in Richmond.

Michael Todd
Contributing Writer

Tiffany Haas as Galinda and Anne Brummel as Elphaba in Broadway in Richmond's production of “Wicked” at the Landmark Theater. Image courtesy of Broadway in Richmond.

This past Friday marked the opening weekend of Broadway sensation “Wicked” at the Landmark Theater. Though “Wicked” is a very “Popular” show, it came close to, but fell short of, its goal of “Defying Gravity.”

Taking place in the merry ol’ Land of Oz – complete with emerald city, wonderful wizard, talking animals, munchkins and yellow brick road – “Wicked” actually has next to nothing to do with Dorothy and her odyssey to return home to Kansas, and everything to do with the witches who supposedly help shape her journey.

Instead, act one details a type of prequel into the lives of Elphaba and Galinda, including how they met and how they became known as the Wicked Witch of the West and Good Witch of the North, respectively. Except in this show, as is often the case in reality, it’s a little bit more complicated than good and evil.

Act two follows a parallel universe that provides alternative stories to the origins of familiar characters, with quirky references to Dorothy’s version of the story
scattered throughout.

Over the course of the entire play, the show offers answers to questions the audience might not have even thought to ask, including the source of the Witch’s greenness, the Tin Man’s absence of heart, and the wings of Elphaba’s flying monkey henchmen.

At the beginning of the show, Galinda poses to the audience, “Are people born wicked? Or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?”

Historical references such as these appear repeatedly throughout the show as little clues to what may be the play’s overarching theme: the subjectivity of truth and history, with their respective accuracies and fallacies.

“Where I’m from, we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true – we call it ‘history.’” This line, spoken by the fraudulent Wizard, perhaps best speaks to this idea that titles such as “Wonderful” and “Wicked” don’t always tell the full, or in any sense legitimate, story but instead what the masses are both made and willing to believe.

Moreover, sometimes people with the best of intentions, or who are in any sense different from the majority, are outcast.

The show’s extravagantly constructed set, intricately detailed costumes, and seamless transitions succeeded in leading audience members further down the yellow brick road. Unfortunately, these were the primary elements that disguised this off-Broadway caliber show as anything more than a glorified college performance.

Tiffany Haas (Galinda), a Virginia native, seemed much more bubbly when she was out of character in her post-bow speech than she did during the actual performance, when she constantly sounded as if she were about to burst into tears.

Meanwhile, between bouts of sulking, Anne Brummel (Elphaba) flew dangerously close to a certain tugging of the corners of the mouth that some might consider a smile during what were obviously intended to be scenes of frustration for her wickedly misunderstood character.

These and other lapses keep the audience held just beyond the fourth wall and remind all viewers that the performance is just that – acting.

A final but significant difference was the lack of adherence to the original soundtrack for what was probably the performers’ lack of vocal dexterity.

Despite its handful of shortcomings, “Wicked” nonetheless exceeded the expectations of a majority of viewers and satisfied the criteria for a show that is both entertaining and thought provoking.


  1. I do not agree w/ this reviewer’s assessement of Wicked at all! If you think the overarching theme of this show is ‘the subjectivity of truth and history’ than you are overthinking it. The show is about friendship, tolerance. I’ve seen this immensely talented cast perform twice now and 1. Tiffany Haas DOES NOT sound like she is about to burst into tears and 2. I doubt you saw Anne smiling, as she gives an intensely honest performance.

    Go see Wicked, it is wonderful!

    Do not buy into this catty nonsense

  2. Dear Michael Todd:

    Anne Brummel has been With Wicked for a very long time, clearly she knows what she is doing and the public is responding well to her. I think its irresponsible of you to pick apart their performances based on seeing the show one time. Im not making excuses for either of them but this is not a movie where they can do take after take. I have seen many musicals where there is a smile or smirk. It happens, it;s live theater and that is what makes it so amazing. Every performance is different and I appreciate the effort and emotional dedication these woman put into the show every night.

  3. PS: With all of the hate crimes and homophobia and intolerance in the world its nice to see a show that empowers people and teaches us to be kind to one another. Wicked found a way to convey this message to both the older generation and the very young. That right there is something to be proud of.

  4. This review makes ME want want to burst into tears! How dare this reviewer pick apart Wicked, one of the most spectacular, awe-inspiring, and powerful musicals of all time! Tiffany and Anne are terrific singers AND actors and it’s not going to be spot-on perfect (to your terms) because it is LIVE THEATRE, as stated by another replier! Everyone: cast, crew, & creative team, work EXTREMELY hard to make Wicked come together so beautifully and it’s rude to pick this fantasical show apart! The show focuses on friendship, and how it can defy what’s really good and wicked, and that everything is not what it appears to be on the outside (don’t judge a book, or Elphaba, by its cover, or skin color!). This show has powerful music and important themes, and if you know the backstory, Dorothy really is annoying because it it told from Elphaba’s point of view. In The Wizard Of Oz, the witch looks bad, but this is an entirely different take and proposes what REALLY happen before Dorothy dropped in. The script and score are witty and funny, and the characters all so intricately detailed and portrayed. Anyone that cannot appreciate this musical does not appreciate the true art of life.

  5. Everyone is entitled to his opinion; but keep in mind, that one’s perception has its foundation in one’s preconceived thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Having said this, while I respect Michael Todd’s opinion, I do not in any way consider his assessment a reflection of the majority of those who viewed the Broadway musical.

    Each and every cast member was excellent, particularly Tiffanny Haas and Anne Brummel. Not only are they both spectacularly talented, they are beautiful as well. I, for one, found their singing to be beyond wonderful.

    I am so grateful that they performed for Richmond; and as a forty-two year old who had never seen “Wicked” before, I couldn’t be happier. I think a greater joy can only be found by taking a child with you and seeing it through his/her eyes.

    I encourage everyone – man, woman, and child – to see “Wicked.” It’s wonderful, and I just can’t imagine anyone performing any better.

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