EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


August 26, 2010

'Wicked' returns

Musical dubbed most successful of modern times returns to Boston Opera House

The last time it came to town, "Wicked" broke all box office records and sold out in record time.

Now the musical dubbed the most successful of modern times returns to the Hub with a seven week engagement at the Boston Opera House beginning Sept. 1.

"Wicked" has some New England connections, including that fact that it's based on the book penned by Concord, Mass., author Gregory Maguire. (And do we even need to say its title is the ultimate New England adjective?)

The show also stars Rhode Island native Richard H. Blake as Fiyero, the prince caught between the show's two main characters: Glinda, who would one day become the Good Witch of the North and Elphaba, the green-skinned girl who became the Wicked Witch of the West.

"It's real tough being the guy caught in the middle of a love triangle between two beautiful women," joked Blake.

For those who've missed the connection: "Wicked" is the untold story of the witches of Oz.

It starts out as a sort of prequel to the classic tale, which popularly became the 1939 movie starring Judy Garland. In truth, its more a parallel story to "The Wizard of Oz" and a cautionary lesson in not judging a book by the cover.

Blake hadn't seen the musical before he was cast in one of its starring roles, but he was pleased when he saw that his character, Fiyero, the "Winkie Prince" was a role that had some meat.

"For me the challenge with Fiyero is that he starts out as this callous and arrogant guy. Kind of the black sheep of the family, always trying to party instead of work," Blake said.

"He then has to grow and mature into a character with morals and a lot of integrity," he said. "For me the real key is to make that arc, and to play the real callous part of him as truthfully as possible — so that when you get to the serious stuff, the audience sees that he made that growth."

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