WICKED CITY with music by Matthew Sklar and book and lyrics by Chad Beguelin, who wrote the Broadway versions of THE WEDDING SINGER and ELF, is smart, tuneful and very funny. Loosely based on the Oedipus legend, it’s a high stakes high camp drama presented in a great blend of Greek tragedy, musical theatre and film noir. The story, narrated by a fortune teller rather than the detective, as is usual in the noir genre, centers around Jo’s hiring Ed, a detective, to search for her long lost son. Of course Ed kills Jo’s husband Lawton, they fall in love and the rest is, literally, history.
Charlie Jicha’s terrific set consists of facades of Deco city buildings in forced perspective that provides two wings on each side for entrances, exits and quick changes. Upstage center is a screen used for wonderfully atmospheric projections. By the way, don’t miss the clever pseudo-film credits created by Bonnie Brewer and director Beth Glover that roll at the end of the show.
Gary Burlew’s lighting is just murky enough to create the atmosphere, while Jean Brookman’s costumes are excellent, particularly those requiring lightning fast changes. I loved the rotating Chinese lady.
Joe Shermann has done a great job with the music especially the jazz trio, along with the able assistance of A. Michael Tilford. Mr. Shermann also provides an expert piano accompaniment. My favorite thing about the music, aside, of course, from the jazzy score is – no body mikes! The cast members are all strong singers and it’s a treat to hear unamplified voices.
Jonathan Brodie, Amy Fitts and A. Michael Tilford all do very well in multiple roles. Their jazz trio numbers are great, especially the wonderfully silly “Find That Kid.” Mr. Brody also shines as the gangsterish mayor, Lawton.
As Ed, the detective, Jeremy Michael is appropriately cool, with a nice touch of youthful naiveté. His fight with Lawton is hilarious. Trudi Posey does a fine job as Mira, especially in her Salome number.
As the narrator Theresa, Debra Thais Evans is a powerhouse, both in her presence and vocally. I particularly liked “Don’t Fall in Love in the Dark.” Silva Mateosian is a terrific Jo, described as, “a Freudian id in a skirt.” She’s a first-rate actress and has a strong voice that can handle the score with ease.
Beth Glover has done a fine job of staging and directing WICKED CITY. Some of her choreography made me giggle, such as the number in handcuffs and the knee-pops in “Look Before You Love.” Miss Glover has a sure but light touch, necessary for tongue-in-cheeky lyrics like, “the denouement around your eyes,” and perhaps one of my all-time favorite lines, “Sounds like someone’s got an Aristotelian tragic flaw.” Most importantly, she and her strong cast have perfectly caught the style of the piece.
There’s only a week left in the run, so try to make to the Depot Theatre and see the regional premiere of this new very clever and very entertaining musical.
On a scale of one to five the Depot Theatre production of WICKED CITY gets five boxcars and a caboose. For North Country Public Radio I’m Connie Meng.