KPBS AIRDATE: August 04, 2006
Competitive women; it’s not always a pretty picture. But sisters or friends, onstage, they all wind up loving each other in the end. In the mega-hit musical “Wicked,” two very different girls grow up to be witches… one ‘good,’ one not-so-good. But in terms of humanity, humility and compassion, the Good and the Wicked got their monikers mixed up – at least according to the best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire. In the comedy, “The Sisters Rosensweig,” the sibs are edging into middle age, but still recalling early antagonisms as they struggle to reunite.
The Brooklyn Jewish Rosensweigs have moved away from their home, their religion – and each other. One is a high-powered executive; another a peripatetic journalist. And the third, hewing close to her heritage, is a suburban housewife who’s reimagined herself as a ‘doctor,’ dispensing personal advice on the radio. In celebration of oldest sister Sara’s 54th birthday, they convene in her posh London home. There are man-problems galore: Sara’s a single Mom halfheartedly dating a conservative but promiscuous MP; Pfeni is having a wild time with a delightfully flamboyant director – who happens to be gay. Even Dr. Gorgeous has a few cracks in her carefully constructed life. The Old Globe production isn’t as sharply funny as it should be, but it’s laced with poignancy, not only in the script, but also in reality, in the death, this past January, of Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein. Though she defined a generation of women, and broke down barriers for female theater artists to come, Wasserstein’s plays have never been produced at the Globe. This first bittersweet effort, directed by David Warren, is beautifully designed and inconsistently acted. These disparate sisters can scratch like cats, but they’re basically loving and supportive.
Not so in “Wicked.” Those witches can be brutal. In this campy, convoluted back-story of “The Wizard of Oz,” Glinda the Good is beautiful, selfish, envious and ambitious. Elphaba, on the other hand, is … plainly green. Shunned by her peers, she nonetheless possesses sharp intelligence and magical powers, which she uses to good – and political – effect, until she’s ostracized by the Wizard — and we all know how she ends up. In this flashback, the two opposites become unlikely friends, then enemies, and finally, allies. The glitzy touring production of the pop-rock musical is terrific — packed with powerhouse voices, knockout numbers, killer costumes and the cleverest lyrics composer Stephen Schwartz has ever written. The two-week run has been sold out since tickets went on sale. But there’s a lottery for 20 seats two hours before every performance. So try your luck; maybe you can work a little magic, too.
©2006 Patté Productions Inc.