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Eye On The Arts: ‘Wicked’

(credit: CBS) Pat Ciarrocchi
In addition to anchoring and reporting news for CBS 3, Pat Ciarro...
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By Pat Ciarrocchi

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Broadway blockbuster “Wicked” is back at the Academy of Music with a summer series of performances through August 4th.

This time, there’s more star-power over the rainbow.

Veteran showman John Davidson is the Wizard in this touring production.

“It’s good to be the Wizard,” said Davidson. “And it’s good to be back in Philadelphia. I’m 71 now, I’m still working 50 years later, and I’m in the best American musical there is. It’s a phenomenon.”

“Wicked” rolled into the Academy with a crew of 70 that stretches nearly five miles of electronic cable just to create the magic.

Since 2003, the magic of “Wicked” has swirled around the story of Glinda, the Good Witch, and Elphaba, the Bad Witch, in the Wizard of Oz story. But “Wicked” is done with a twist.

Brandon Rubendall, a native of Reading, feels that twist, as Fyiero, the romantic lead character he understudies.

“He doesn’t care,” Brandon explains about Fyiero. “Just kind of like glides through, and then he meets this green girl, this witch, and this changes his perspective on things.”

Just outside of the audience’s view is Molly Braverman, a 2005 Lower Merion graduate who is one of three stage managers.

“We’re on headsets and we have cue lights in front of us,” said Braverman. “We tell each technical element and each light cue when to go. Essentially, it’s the choreography of the technical elements.”

Not all the star-power is on stage.

Molly is 26 and a Columbia University graduate who interned on Broadway shows and grew up coming to the Academy for Philadelphia Orchestra children’s concerts with her grandmother. Now, she’s calling more than the cues.

“I arrived to a road crew who had been touring longer than I had been alive,” said Braverman. “And it was absolutely wonderful, because they have so much to teach me. I believe that ego needs to be left at the door, and I love learning from the people I work with. You become a much richer person, a richer stage manager and a richer professional all in one.”

Talk about pressure.

Witches, flying monkeys, family in the audience and a Wizard who’s more the con man.

“It’s great to be a bit of a wheeler-dealer,” said Davidson.”And the Wizard is bigger than life, and I love to be big on stage, and there’s nothing bigger than ‘Wicked.’”

“Wicked” is now at the Academy of Music through August 4th. For tickets, visit: www.kimmelcenter.org