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[Herald Review] Green-skinned witch makes ‘Wicked’ return

Musical stars Ock Joo-hyun and Jeong Sun-ah bewitch audiences

A scene from “Wicked” (Clip Service)
A scene from “Wicked” (Clip Service)

The Wicked Witch of the West has returned to Seoul, with the musical “Wicked” officially opening its Seoul run on Tuesday.

Inspired by the classic “The Wizard of the Oz,” and based on Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel “Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West,” tells the story of two unlikely friends, Elphaba, the wicked green witch of the west, and Glinda, the good white witch.

Featuring musical divas Ock Joo-hyun and Jeong Seon-ah, and also aspiring stage actors Son Seung-yeon and Na Ha-na, tickets for the shows were sold out minutes after going on sale with some reported to have been resold at a higher price, which is illegal.

At Tuesday’s performance, Ock and Jeong reunited again after putting up memorable performances in 2013 when the licensed Korean-language version of the musical “Wicked” first premiered in Korea.

Ock, who plays Elphaba the wicked witch, appeared on stage painted in green from head to toe.

The musical megastar who has starred in various musical productions, including “Elizabeth,” “Rebecca,” “Mata Hari,” “Cats,” “Aida” and more, put up a memorable performance on Tuesday, singing the musical’s signature number “Defying Gravity,” on a broomstick.

Her strong voice rang throughout the performance hall and the audience responded with a thundering applause, which theater-goers have not been able to hear for a while due to strict social distancing rules applied to performing arts venues.

On Tuesday, half of the 1,764 seats were filled, in compliance to the social distancing rule. Those who came alone were seated under a middle-seat vacancy rule, and those who came as a couple were seated next to each other.

Jeong shone in her role as the good white witch Glinda, portraying the bubbly blond character. Though best recognized for her portrayal of Amneris in “Aida,” Jeong showed that she could also work her magic with a light-hearted, comical character.

However, perhaps because it was the first performance of the season, the ensemble cast members’ dances and movements appeared to be somewhat awkward, failing to create that fantastical ambience of the Emerald City.

The show runs until May 1 at the Blue Square in central Seoul. Tickets for performances from March 6 onward have yet to open. After Seoul’s performances, the show will move to Busan in May.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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