The arts are arguably one of the most important things in our current society. With the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the artistic world was at a standstill. The lack of concerts, live theater, and productions of arts left many people without jobs and so many others without a source of self expression and joy. In the last few months, an increase in vaccination rates has given the arts a chance to come back, and they have snatched that chance up very enthusiastically and returned with a boom.
Among the return of the arts, live theater has been one of the most anticipated events. And of course, the Broadway shows and tours have come back and better than ever. The recently opened Tanger Performing Arts Center here in Greensboro hosted its first Broadway show at the venue. The venue hosted the “WICKED” Broadway Tour played from October 7 to October 24. Beyond being the first show to be hosted at the new Tanger venue, “WICKED” is also the first Broadway show to resume touring the country after a 17-month shutdown.
The musical opens with one of the main characters, Glenda, descending from her iconic bubble and stating, “It’s good to see me, isn’t it?”. For fans of the arts and live theater, the line will resonate with many as the return of the arts is such an important moment as we move into a possible “post pandemic” world. As a fan of live theater myself, hearing those words while sitting in a theater for the first time in over a year really set the mood for the whole show. Beyond this show being the first live theater experience since the shutdown in March of 2020 for much of the audience, this is also the first ever show to play at the brand new Tanger Performing Arts Center, which is, in all honesty, an entire experience within itself.
If you are unfamiliar with the musical “WICKED”, it is a tale of the “Wizard of Oz” before Dorothy came along, being coined as the “the untold true story of the witches of Oz”. The two and a half hour long show depicts the origin story of the Wicked Witch of The West, or Elphaba, and Glenda the Good Witch. The musical is made up of talented triple-threat actors, gorgeous sets and lighting, and songs that will make you feel every emotion from laughing to crying. The tour cast is filled with amazing actors with credentials from Broadway to tours to television. Allison Bailey (Glenda) and Talia Suskauer (Elphaba) do a phenomenal job of bringing these iconic and well-loved characters to life, ingraining tons of emotion, personality, and passion into their performances. And the true star of the show? The ensemble, of course. This cast is full of amazing performers who can sing, dance, and act all at the same time. Just like any other live show, the ensemble is the glue that holds this amazing show together and it would be widely different without the citizens of Oz backing up our two favorite witches.
In all, this show was amazing – as one would probably expect from a colorful, lively musical about the land of Oz. It was a breath of fresh air from over a year of attending no live events and reminded of my love for theater. Live theater returning has breathed life into a world that felt desolate and quiet for too long. If you want to experience the return of theater, the Tanger Performing Arts Center’s 2021-2022 Broadway catalogue is chocked full of amazing touring shows including “Come From Away”, “Mean Girls”, “Hamilton”, and “Rent”. Get your tickets today and witness Broadway’s triumphant return all the way in the Gate City.