Oh, What a Night! “Wicked” Returns to Durham, and Tiffany Haas and Christine Dwyer Set DPAC Ablaze

The Durham Performing Arts Center will present "Wicked" on May 2-6, 8-13, 15-20, and 22-27
The Durham Performing Arts Center will present "Wicked" on May 2-6, 8-13, 15-20, and 22-27
The Durham Performing Arts Center will present "Wicked" on May 2-6, 8-13, 15-20, and 22-27
The Durham Performing Arts Center will present "Wicked" on May 2-6, 8-13, 15-20, and 22-27

Incendiary performances by Tiffany Haas and Christine Dwyer really lit up the Durham Performing Arts Center stage during the May 3rd press-night performance of Wicked, whose four-week return engagement runs through May 27th. Haas is delightfully dim as the insufferably snobbish and self-centered wealthy blonde beauty Galinda, who ironically comes to be known as Glinda the Good; and Dwyer is simply wonderful as her raven-haired, green-skinned, hair-trigger-tempered socially conscious college roommate Elphaba, a pariah at Shiz University who will become the Wicked Witch of the West as her skill at sorcery manifests itself.

Whether you opt for Team Glinda or Team Elphaba, you will have to agree that Haas nails Glinda’s smug signature song (“Popular”), and Dwyer counters with a heart-tugging rendition of Elphaba’s wistful anthem (“I’m Not That Girl”). But the best is yet to come, because their duets on Elphaba’s defiant declaration “Defying Gravity” and Elphaba and Glinda’s poignant farewell “For Good” are real show-stoppers.

Christine Dwyer as Elphaba, the future Wicked
Witch of the West (
photo by Joan Marcus)

Tiffany Haas as Galinda, who comes to be known
as Glinda the Good (
photo by Joan Marcus)

Christine Dwyer and Tiffany Haas get top billing in the second national tour of Wicked, which previously played DPAC on April 21-May 16, 2010; but there is plenty of candlepower up and down the bill. Marilyn Caskey is a caution as Shiz University headmistress and sorcery instructor Madame Morrible (rhymes with “horrible, and is she ever), and Paul Kreppel is a steel fist in a velvet glove as the outwardly amiable but secretly fascistic Kansas conman who becomes The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Wicked veteran Billy Harrigan Tighe, who like Christine Dwyer rejoined the company on May 2nd at DPAC, cuts a handsome figure as the shallow playboy Winkie prince Fiyero, who demonstrates unexpected depths under Elphaba’s influence; and Timothy Britten Parker is sweet as Shiz University history professor Doctor Dillamond, a talking goat who is banished from the classroom during The Wizard’s purge of “intelligent animals” from public life in Oz.

Catherine Charlebois adeptly demonstrates the dual personality of Elphaba’s wheelchair-bound little sister Nessarose: the lonely college student desperate for a date and then, after she succeeds her father (Wayne Schroder) as Governor of Munchkinland, she flies into rages whenever she doesn’t get her way. Dan Pacheco is charming as the love-lorn Munchkin Boq, whom the unobtainable Object of His Affections (Glinda, of course) convinces to take Nessarose out.

The second national tour of Wicked has irrepressibly high spirits and a cast that briskly executes every nuance of the magnificent musical staging by Joe Mantello and Wayne Cilento, stopping the show time after time with vibrant vocals as they trip the light fantastic during powerhouse production numbers, such as “No One Mourns the Wicked,” “Dancing Through Life,” “Defying Gravity,” and a truly grand “Finale.”

Together with the splendid sets of scenic designer Eugene Lee, the artful illumination of lighting designer Kenneth Posner, the outrageously flamboyant Ozian fashions of costume designer Susan Hilferty, and the exuberant accompaniment of musical director Stephen Oremus and the show’s orchestra, they not only make Wicked a must-see musical spectacular — but one time may not be enough to slake Triangle theatergoer’s thirst for this singular multiple Tony Award® winner, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman, based on Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, the 1995 bestseller by Gregory Maguire.

WARNING: According to the Durham Performing Arts Center, Wicked is “Not recommended for children under the age of 8. Everyone must have a ticket regardless of age; [and] children under 5 will not be admitted to the theater.”

SECOND OPINION: May 6th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Glenn McDonald: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/05/06/2044237/returning-wicked-pays-off-when.html; May 5th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh review by Larissa Mount: http://raleigh.broadwayworld.com/article/BWW-Reviews-WICKED-Flies-Back-into-Durham-20120505; May 5th Raleigh, NC WRAL.com review by Jodi Leese Glusco: http://www.wral.com/entertainment/out_and_about/blogpost/11066360/ and May 1st preview: http://www.wral.com/entertainment/video/7455286/#/vid7455286; and April 27th Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/18387336/article-Magic-of-‘Wicked’-back-at-DPAC and May 3rd review by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/18464705/article-REVIEW–Women-rule-a-‘Wicked’-good-show?, respectively (Note 1: You must register to view this page). (Note 2: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the April 30th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click, http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2012/04/back-by-popular-demand-wicked-will-start-its-four-week-2012-run-at-dpac-on-may-2nd/.)

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents WICKED at 1 and 6:30 p.m. May 6, 7:30 p.m. May 8-10, 8 p.m. May 11, 2 and 8 p.m. May 12, 1 and 6:30 p.m. May 13, 7:30 p.m. May 15-17, 8 p.m. May 18, 2 and 8 p.m. May 19, 1 and 6:30 p.m. May 20, 7:30 p.m. May 22-24, 8 p.m. May 25, 2 and 8 p.m. May 26, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. May 27 at DPAC, in the American Tobacco District, 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701.

TICKETS: $40.50-$142.50 (including fees).


DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787), tickets@dpacnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events/how_to_buy_tickets.

Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/864373.

GROUP RATES (20+ tickets): 919-281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, http://www.dpacnc.com/events/group_services/broadway_group_pricing, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events/group_services/online-groups.

SHOW: http://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/wicked_1.

VIDEO PREVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0joZAGUHatA.

PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.dpacnc.com/.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.dpacnc.com/plan_your_visit/getting_here.

PARKING: http://www.dpacnc.com/plan_your_visit/parking_guide.

NOTE: Two-and-a-half hours before each performance, the Durham Performing Arts Center Ticket Center will accept entries for a lottery for a limited number of orchestra seats. The winning tickets will be drawn 30 minutes later, and lottery winners will be able to buy up to two tickets for just $25 each (cash only). For details of the Wicked ticket lottery, click http://www.dpacnc.com/news/detail/wicked-announces-lottery-for-25-seats.


The Book: http://gregorymaguire.com/books/wicked.html (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked:_The_Life_and_Times_of_the_Wicked_Witch_of_the_West (Wikipedia).

Gregory Maguire: http://gregorymaguire.com/ (official website).

The Musical: http://www.wickedthemusical.com/ (official website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked_musical (Wikipedia), http://www.musicalschwartz.com/wicked.htm (MusicalSchwartz.com), and http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?ID=11169 (Internet Broadway Database).

The Tour: http://www.wickedthemusical.com/page.php#WickedCitiesOnTour2Company (official web page) and http://broadwayiswicked.com/tag/second-national-tour/ (fan site).

Stephen Schwartz: http://www.musicalschwartz.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Schwartz_(composer) (Wikipedia).

Winnie Holzman: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winnie_Holzman (Wikipedia).

The Film: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1262426/ (Internet Movie Database).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.

To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.

By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).


  1. Actually it was also the 2nd National Tour back in 2010 as well. Christine Dwyer was the understudy for Elphaba back then and was in the ensemble. Since then she had been promoted to Elphaba standby and is not the lead. :)

  2. Oops, that is suppose to say “Now the lead”..Christine Dwyer is NOW the lead Elphaba after having been the understudy and standby. :)

  3. Dear Sam,

    Thanks for the heads up. You are right about this being the second time at DPAC for the second national tour of “Wicked.” I have corrected my review accordingly.

    As for Christine Dwyer’s status in the various tours of “Wicked,” the only point germane to this review is that she and Billy Harrigan Tighe both rejoined this company on May 2nd at DPAC.


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