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‘Wicked’ lights up the Saroyan

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Maderans, from left, Taylor Hernandes, Lauren Nishimoto, Carly Thelander, Dorothy Nishimoto, Wally Nishimoto, Kathy Nishimoto, Gaylen Thelander, Ruth Nishimoto, Jared Thelander, Nanette Hernandes, and Jackie Gonzalez enjoy a night at the production of "Wicked."


The houselights dimmed and the orchestra filled the Saroyan Theater with music when “Wicked” made a return engagement to Fresno March 20 through 31. The show is a retelling of the classic Wizard of Oz from a much different perspective.

The multi-Tony award-winning production, part of the “Broadway in Fresno” series, drew audience members from Madera during its recent run at the Saroyan Theater.

“The costumes were so well designed and put together,” said Stefanie Eddings of Madera, “The time invested in costume alone is staggering.”

Eddings, a native and lifelong Madera resident, has a personal connection to Jack Haley, who played The Tin Man from the legendary 1939 movie “Wizard of Oz.” The daughter of local attorneys Lester and Virginia Gendron, she knew Haley and several other movie actors who were her parents’ clients and involved in some Madera county real estate developments in the 1950s and 1960s.

“Love the story and its portrayal by the actors. It also answered questions I never thought I had about the original film,” said Eddings.

This was her first time seeing the production.

“I was amazed at the talent level of the singers. (They were) absolutely stunning, “she said. “It gave me goosebumps.”

“A thoroughly enjoyable performance, I would go back to see it again if I could. In fact I would consider seeing more productions at the theater,” said Eddings. “If I can’t get to Broadway in New York, then Fresno it is.”

She said she was sad to think of how many productions she has missed at the Saroyan Theater.

Members the Nishimoto family saw Wicked together on the second night of its Fresno run. The multi-generational family outing enjoyed the production.

“Loved the show, incredible voices and a thoroughly entertaining evening,” said Kathy Nishimoto.

“It was my second time seeing it, love the story,” said Kathy’s daughter Lauren Nishimoto. “It never gets old.”

Another family member also has great affection for the production.

“Seen it four times, once in San Francisco, once in Los Angles and twice in Fresno and plan on seeing it many more times,” said Carly Thelander.

The show is based on the novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West,” by Gregory Maguire. The Tony Award-winning musical tells the story of the early days of Glinda the Good Witch and a pair of sisters who grow into the Wicked Witch of the East and West.

In the familiar movie, a tornado drops a house and Dorothy Gale from Kansas on the Wicked Witch of the East. Wicked is a prequel to that story and we learn how the witches of Oz develop their personalities as they attend Shiz University in Oz.


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