Artist: Original Broadway Cast (feat. various artists)
Album: Wicked (15th Anniversary Special Edition)
Record Label: UMG Recordings
Recommended Tracks: Track 1 “For Good” Live (Side 2) , Track 3 “The Wizard and I” Live (Side 2)
In celebration of the the cult classic musical, “Wicked” debuting fifteen years ago on Broadway, the UMG label released a special edition of the iconic original cast recording. This anniversary album also includes live version bonus tracks featuring artists like Ariana Grande and Pentatonix who performed on A Very Wicked Halloween: Celebrating Fifteen Years on Broadway. On October 29, 2018 NBC broadcasted this televised concert with hosts Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, the original Elphaba and Glinda, who also performed songs from the album.
There’s no question that Idina and Kristin had impeccable chemistry during their run on Broadway in spite of having voices that contrast each other since their character’s are opposites. Idina’s powerful and emotional vocals strike with such exhilarating energy in every note that she belts. Kristin’s playful portrayal of Glinda is heightened with her soprano vocals and charming personality that she effortlessly exudes. Even fifteen years later when they return to the stage together to celebrate the anniversary, their voices are as incredible as ever. They sang a live duet of the musical’s “For Good” which is one of the bonus tracks on the re-released 23 track album. It’s a song where the two main characters express how the other person has made an impact on their life, and how their connection will forever be imprinted in their memory even when they part ways. Their performance oozes with sentimentality and genuine passion for the musical that served as an iconic milestone for their careers. Idina and Kristin open the song together right before they are joined by actresses who have played Elphaba and Glinda in the past and present. Kristin’s melodious voice shines alongside Idina’s rich and velvety vocals. They exhibit the same heartfelt emotions while performing the song as they did on the original cast recording. The orchestra in the background allows their voices to be at the forefront of the song as the percussion and piano plays softly. The last minute of the song showcases the voices of all of the Elphaba’s and Glinda’s who harmonize beautifully together. Next, Ariana Grande covers a fun rendition of “The Wizard and I.” She adds a unique twist to the song by adding a pop flair for her own interpretation. This solo song is about Elphaba’s newfound motivation to change herself when she finds out that she will meet the Wizard. Ariana makes it sound more playful compared to the original by singing at a faster tempo with breathy hushed tones before hitting the high notes. She has an incredible vocal range which is apparent in her performance as she shifts from warm low notes to high notes, such as the impressive final 25 seconds of the song.
The Wicked (15th Anniversary Special Edition) honors one of the most popular musicals that first hit the stage in the early 2000s. As the years have passed, it has remained a commercial success because of its appeal to people of all ages and its memorable music written by Stephen Schwartz. This re-released album provides a theatrical experience full of wit and charm, earning it a 5/5 rating.