Wicked, the smash Broadway musical, which started life in a pre-production run in San Francisco in 2003 at the Curran theater, is finally back in San Francisco at the Orpheum Theater. The return to San Francisco brings with it a nice surprise, and that’s Deedee Magno (who is of Filipino descent), playing Nessarose. If you watch any mainstream media you’re already aware of how few parts Asians (and most minorities) get in movies, musicals and plays.
It’s especially a nice touch when a role that doesn’t call for an Asian actor gets filled with an Asian actor, especially since roles that are written for Asians quite often get filled with Caucasian mainstream actors, as witnessed by the controversy surrounding Miss Saigon, when the role of the Engineer (Tran Van Dinh) went to Jonathan Pryce.
I was lucky enough to see the production of Wicked on the first of February, and it met and exceeded all of my expectations. I will admit that I have been a fan of musicals ever since I saw Yul Brenner in the 1979 production of The King and I on Broadway.
Since I’m on the discussion of Broadway musicals, I also want to give a special kudos to Phylicia Rashad who starred on Broadway as the witch in the production of Into the Woods in 1988. She had the tenacity to convince the producers to cast an African American woman not only in the role of the witch, but as one of the step-sisters as well. It made for a memorable show, and one I was proud to have seen live on stage.
So if you get a chance, go see Wicked, it’s worth it if you have an affinity for musicals.