There were many different reasons for Wicked’s runaway success during its initial US run. It was a career-making show for Kristin Chenoweth thanks to her stellar performance as Glinda, and Idina Menzel wrote Elphaba into the lists of all-time great Broadway characters. It’s far from Menzel’s only role worthy of celebration; her tremendous range also won universal acclaim when she played Maureen in Rent and, more recently, when she played Elsa in Frozen. Menzel’s tenure as Elphaba during the London engagement of the show produced a manic fan response that harkened back to the UK’s infatuation with the Beatles 40 years prior.
While Wicked might have lost a touch of its appeal due to overexposure, it’s impossible to overlook the worth of numbers like ‘Defying Gravity,’ the show-stopper which closes Act I. It’s one of the most powerful and exciting songs ever written for a musical – and also one of the most challenging.
Close critics might say that Wicked is a brassy, unsophisticated show. Its place in the Broadway canon, though, is absolutely undeniable.