Erin Mackey and Teal Wicks
in Wicked
(© Joan Marcus)
Erin Mackey and Teal Wicks
in Wicked
(© Joan Marcus)
There are two new witches in town at the Pantages Theater, where the Los Angeles production of Wicked rolls along. The good news is that Erin Mackey (Glinda) and Teal Wicks (Elphaba) find nuances in their roles -- small moments and motions which add to the humor and pathos -- and both ladies have lovely, lyrical voices that wrap around some of the complex phrases of Stephen Schwartz's score with ease.

But ultimately, neither of these actresses has the star presence or belting voice needed to dazzle audiences, especially during the goosebump-inducing moments built into the final notes of the show-stopping "Defying Gravity" and the duet "For Good."

Mackey has some delightful acting bits, mostly with her hands. She can be found flicking her fingers at people as if she were swatting an annoying fly, waving falsely at adoring fans, or in a hilarious bit, thrusting her fingers upward as if summoning the spirit of Eva Peron. Like a hyperactive pixie, she bounces, makes funny asides, and pivots on her foot, kicking back her heel like a five-year-old pepped up on Hostess Ho-Hos.

Wicks takes a bit longer to grow into her role. In Act One, she practically growls her lines and punctuates them with her fist, but as Elphaba gained confidence, so did Wicks' performance. Her maniacal laugh is as memorable as Margaret Hamilton's, and her agony over her sister's death is palpable. Her most magical moment occurs in Act Two as she professes her love to the newly-romantic Fiyero in "As Long As You're Mine." She's lustful, passionate, and adoring all at once.

Luckily, Wicks and Mackey are supported by two seasoned pros. As the duplicitously sleazy Wizard, John Rubinstein gives a wickedly funny portrayal. Whether flittering around the stage singing "Wonderful" or weaseling out of a hypocritical situation, he is hilarious. Jo Anne Worley strips away all her usual idiosyncrasies and exaggerated movements and instead inhabits the deceptively villainess Madame Morrible.

While there is much to applaud in Mackey and Wicks' work, they are simply not up to the sheer spectacle that is Wicked.