The Wiz That Was

Wicked's second visit to DSM breaks the spell; T3's Odd Couple cleans up nicely

Other elements have lost a step too. The costumes by Susan Hilfterty aren't as crisp as they once were. Designer Kenneth Posner's lighting, which used to feature some spectacular smoke and laser work in "Defying Gravity," seems to have been taken down several notches. Some of the dancers in the corps look like they've been hitting the hotel buffet line a little too often. P.J. Benjamin, playing the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, is so thick and clunky he can't even manage a passable soft shoe in his big solo.

The only cast member who tops her predecessor is Barbara Tirrell as Madame Morrible, the headmistress who in Act 2 suddenly becomes the Wizard's press advisor (for no logical reason whatsoever). Carol Kane is a fine comic actress in movies and TV, but on a big stage, her garbled diction swallowed a lot of funny lines. Now Tirrell's Morrible gets more laughs than Glinda.

Instead of a thrilling evening of musical theater, this Wicked's woeful. Long before the curtain came down, I was ready to click my heels three times and go home.

That old black magic: This ho-hum touring production of Wicked (starring Victoria Matlock as Elphaba) proves that the second time isn't a charm.
Joan Marcus
That old black magic: This ho-hum touring production of Wicked (starring Victoria Matlock as Elphaba) proves that the second time isn't a charm.


Wicked continues through May 6 at the Music Hall at Fair Park, 214-631-ARTS.

The Odd Couple continues through May 13 at Theatre Three, 214-871-3300.

From Oz to The Odd Couple: That old workhorse of a comedy by Neil Simon is now back in a sturdy, pleasant enough production at Theatre Three. Doughy Doug Jackson and flinty Bob Hess play Oscar and Felix, divorced New Yorkers sharing an eight-room apartment on Riverside Drive. One hint at how vintage this comedy is: They argue about the rent, which is $120 a month. Couldn't you die?

Directed by T.J. Walsh, this Odd Couple gets its best laughs from the silences between Simon's punch lines. Jackson and Hess, their characters' friendship strained by Felix's obsessive-compulsive tidiness, begin the second act with a 10-minute pantomimed war over personal boundaries. Oscar strides up and over the furniture, kicking everything in his path. Felix tries to eat a plate of linguini, which Oscar heaves onto the wall. All a bit Niles v. Frasier Crane, but masterfully staged and acted.

Serving as the rumpled Greek chorus is Oscar and Felix's quartet of poker buddies: Murray the cop (newcomer Lonny Schonfeld, who's terrific); impatient Roy (Elias Taylorson, a young Martin Balsam type); nervous Vinnie (David Fluitt); and grumpy Speed (Bradley Campbell). Fluttering in as the fine-feathered Pigeon sisters are Ginger Goldman and Caitlin Glass.

It's a still-sprightly American play about a couple of buddies sorting out their differences. Those lines about Oscar's kitchen—when he serves brown and green sandwiches to his poker pals, he says the latter is "either very new cheese or very old meat"—still get howls no matter how many times you've heard them.

Simon says, see it again if you need to laugh it out for a few hours.

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