Lawrence Frascella
January 09, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Wicked

type
Stage
Current Status
In Season
performer
Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel
director
Joe Mantello

We gave it a C+

Wicked provides fresh evidence that Broadway needs a new, galvanizing musical direction. This lavish revisionist take on ”The Wizard of Oz” may possess the visual poetry of a Tim Burton movie, but the songs — by composer Stephen Schwartz and lyricist Winnie Holzman (”thirtysomething”) — are a dreary melange of Disney and Sondheim. What the lushly produced CD does best is capture the play’s two star performances. As Glinda, Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth glides effortlessly from ditzy-blonde comedy to thrilling operatic trill. But the real enchantress is Idina Menzel (”Rent”) as the Wicked Witch. Her voice is clamorous and ear-piercing — in a good way. It cuts through the fog of show-tune cliche.

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