‘Wicked’ in Chicago is pure magic on stage

With the witches of Oz finally back in Chicago, albeit for just a short visit, there’s no better time to introduce your kids to the magic at play between the good and the supposedly evil in “Wicked.” They will spot themes relevant to their lives outside the make-believe of the theater: popularity, bullying and acceptance of differences.

If this is your first time seeing “Wicked,” you’ll soon find yourself feeling sorry for the very green Elphaba, played by Jackie Burns, as circumstances spin her as wicked. You’ll be laughing at Glinda, played by Chandra Lee Schwartz, who takes ditzy blonde to a whole new level

You might even discover some characters you really dislike by night’s end (the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, played by veteran Wizard Gene Weygandt, is not so wonderful and Elphaba’s sister, Nessarose, is despicable.) Burns’ vocals will give you chills while handsome Fiyero, in the form of Richard H. Blake, will give moms good reason to crush.

The ending will stick with you long after the curtain closes.

This prequel to “The Wizard of Oz,” as in before Dorothy and her house drop from the sky, is not a scary story even for little ones. It is one of friendship, forged between Elphaba and Glinda, despite their obvious differences. It’s a story all kids will appreciate, though we believe it is probably best appreciated by kids age 7 and up.

Consider booking a behind-the-scenes look on Tuesday evenings and Wednesday, Jan. 12. For $25, the one-hour “Behind the Emerald Curtain” gives you up-close view of the costumes, props and film footage about the making of the production as well as a question-and-answer session with cast members. The musical is also offering day-of-performance drawings at the box office for seats in the front two rows for $25 each.

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