'Wicked' good: Broadway hit musical returns to Gammage

February 13, 2012

Returning to ASU Gammage Feb. 15 for a one-month engagement, the hit musical "Wicked" is the Broadway adaptation of a revisionist look at the children's book "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and the classic American film "The Wizard of Oz." And while there may not be a Kansas twister in this tale about the Land of Oz, there certainly is no dearth of twists.

Wicked tells the story of how Glinda from the North – pretty and popular – became "good" and Elphaba from the West – fiery and misunderstood – became "wicked." Why these two women became opposite one another in popular memory is a question that drives the show, serving up several satisfying plot twists and illustrating another magical side of Oz we've never seen before. Download Full Image

Before "Dorothy Gale" – and her little dog, too – dropped into Oz, much had happened within the community of munchkins, wizards and witches, according to Gregory Macguire's 1995 novel "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West," on which the musical is based. There were political factions and social upheavals, the novel reveals, and the witches had not yet grown up and found their own way. 

Writer Winnie Holzman – of such acclaimed television programs as “My So-Called Life” and “thirtysomething" – and lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz's musical adaptation of Maguire's book has launched this pre-Dorothy story into pop culture fame. Wicked has broken nearly every box office record since its 2003 debut, and when it last played at Gammage Auditorium in 2009 the show sold out in record time.

Back by popular demand, the show has become a special treat for its nationally touring cast that performs each night, says castmember Justin Brill.

"You feel so fortunate as an actor to be part of something so successful that has such a loyal following," said Brill, who has worked consistently in theatre for more than a decade. "As an actor, it's a special treat to have sold-out audiences and lots of energy surrounding the performances."

In the show, Brill performs the role of "Boq," the only munchkin to attend university. While at school, Boq becomes entangled in a love triangle between Glinda and Elphaba, the two soon-to-be witches.

"Boq is very optimistic," Brill says of his character. "He wears his heart on his sleeve, is a hopefuly guy, and makes choices based on his feelings. He means well, and he does some crazy things in the name of love."

Brill, who is lucky enough to tour with his wife, says he looks forward to the start of every performance.

"One of my favorite moments is the pre-show announcement when the lights go down and you feel the murmur, and sometimes the audience applauds, and then finally the downbeat of the orchestra," Brill said. "You can feel that energy and love for the show. It's a very exciting moment."

At the core of the show is a story about friendship and identity – the process of figuring out what and who to believe and what is in your heart, Brill says.

"Today, we are fed so much information that it is really hard to figure out what to believe," Brill said. "News is gearing toward entertainment. It's hard to figure out who to trust. What I really like about the show is that it reminds you that it's important to look within yourself and decide for yourself, and carry that forward."

For more information on Wicked, visit wickedthemusical.com. To learn more about Brill, visit justinbrill.com/.

To catch a performance of Wicked, Feb. 15 through March 11, at ASU Gammage, on the Tempe campus, visit the Gammage Box Office or call 480-965-3434.

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

Women's basketball defeats Colorado, 60-47

February 13, 2012

Janae Fulcher (16 points) and Alex Earl (career-high 14 points) came off the bench to combine for 30 points to lead the Arizona State women's basketball team to a 60-47 win over Colorado.

Kali Bennett added 10 points for the Sun Devils (16-8, 7-6 Pac-12), who snapped a three-game losing streak. Download Full Image

ASU, which came into the game ranked first in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (52.9 ppg), came through with another solid defensive effort on Saturday as it held Colorado (16-8, 5-8 Pac-12) more than 16 points below its scoring average (63.2 ppg).

The Sun Devils, who outrebounded Colorado 43-25, scored 26 points off 24 Colorado turnovers and used a 15-6 advantage on the offensive boards to score 13 second chance points.

Fulcher was 7-9 from the floor and scored 10 of her points in the second half while Earl was a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line. Kimberly Brandon, ASU's leading scorer (10.5 ppg) did not score in the first half, but came back to score eight points in the second half while also grabbing eight rebounds for the game.

Leading 29-23 at the break, the Sun Devils came out and started the second half with a 14-6 run to take a 43-29 lead. A 6-0 run later in the half swelled ASU's advantage to 18 points, 51-33, its largest lead of the game.

At the same time they were building their 18-point lead, the Sun Devils put the clamps on Colorado's offense as they limited the Buffaloes to 3-12 shooting while forcing 10 turnovers over the first 13:23 of the second half.

Colorado would counter with a 12-1 run over a three-minute stretch to get within seven points, 52-45, with 3:16 left, however the Sun Devils would reel off five unanswered points to build their lead back up to 57-45 with 1:40 left. The Buffaloes would get no closer than 10 points the rest of the game.

Chucky Jeffery, who came into the game as the Pac-12's seventh-leading scorer (15.4 ppg), led Colorado with 10 points (3-12 FGs).

The Sun Devils return to action next week when they play their final two home games of the 2011-12 season against Washington (Thurs., at 6:30 p.m.) and Washington State (Sat., at 2 p.m.).