By Wicker Van Orsdel
“Wicked” is back in town and Des Moines audiences couldn’t be happier! Just in case you’ve been living under a rock since 2003 and haven’t yet taken the opportunity to see this gem of a musical theater masterpiece, you have your chance from now until Dec. 4!
As if the cast wasn’t exhausted enough doing eight shows a week, “Wicked” also cast its spell of awesomeness at the Stoner Theater for one special night. Monday is the “dark night” for the “Wicked” production, and the “Wicked” cast agreed to do a fundraiser in support of the Stoner Theater and the AIDS Project of Central Iowa. It was: “A Wicked Night Off!” We were able to experience a dazzling evening of singing and dancing by “Wicked” cast members on the intimate Stoner Theater stage. There are no bad seats, and the Stoner is a perfect venue for anyone who loves that intimate theater experience. The evening proved to be the most successful fundraiser ever held there!
The “Wicked” cast is steeped in talent; every performer brought something wonderful to the stage. It was so thrilling to see them perform out of their “Wicked” characters. The witches left their green behind and we enjoyed divas, and dancing and trills…Oh MY! Having so many vocal powerhouses under one roof was awesome! Daniel Torres, who directed the cabaret, did a hilarious love song pulling Pat Henson from the audience. The three witches—Tiffany Haas (Galinda), Anne Brummel (Elphaba), who BTW looks great degreenified, and Laurel Harris (understudy)—all sang “ I Put a Spell on You.” Perfect. The dancing was indescribably delicious! “Steam Heat,” an old favorite of mine, was pure Bob Fosse, and “Cell Block Tango” was very sexy. You could reach out and almost touch the performers and definitely see them breathing hard. Justin Wirick took everyone’s breath away with his “You Raise Me Up” choreography (sorry you missed this…the audience was total drop-jaw).
The cast also helped with the fabulous “Go Green” live auction items. The bidding was quite fierce since the items included “Tea with Galinda and her Understudies” (we requested cocktails, but no go); a backstage tour and photos with Elphaba, which was very popular; and…drumroll… a walk-on role in a performance of “Wicked!” Scott Dean and two other gentlemen wanted this badly and all squared off to win the bid. Turns out, each got to have a part in the show, so it was a happy ending. The Stoner made money, and the lucky guys got their dream of being on stage!
After the show, we enjoyed a post-performance reception, where the audience had the opportunity to hobnob with the performers with cocktails and desserts, provided by Chef Terrie at Country Club Market in Clive. Terrie has volunteered her time and provided fabulous desserts at the last three Broadway fundraisers.
“A Wicked Night Off” was a bona fide crowd-pleaser, and there are many names to drop in thanks for making it happen. It would not have been possible without the talented members of the “Wicked” tour group, who gave up their one night off. We also thank the generous spirits of Tim Hickman, Frank Vaia, and Dr. Jim and Mary Ellen Kimball, who underwrote the evening, and Ron Lambert, producing art director of StageWest in the Stoner Theatre. Thank you all. Emerald City never had it so good (Oh…and don’t forget Stephen Schwartz. You do know who Stephen Schwartz is, don’t you? Look it up.)