On the Radar: Wicked comes to the Straz Center

What if the Wicked Witch of the West is really just misunderstood? It’s coming to the Straz Center next week in all it’s green-skinned glory, and I won’t be the only one fighting you for tickets: the last tour in Tampa Bay sold out faster than you can say “munchkinland.” (Pictured: Donna Vivino and Chandra Lee Schwartz. Photo courtesy Joan Marcus) Feb. 3-28, 7:30 p.m. Tues.-Thurs. and Sun., 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 2 p.m. matinees Sat.-Sun., Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 MacInnes Place, Tampa, $50-$163.50, tbpac.org.

Welcome to On the Radar, where we preview up-and-coming arts events to mark your calendar for. The first friend I made in college was Kali, an extrovert who was torn between her loves of theater and teaching, and who’s enthusiasm made up for my shyness. I’ll never forget the first time I jumped into her Honda Civic and she asked if I like musicals. I’m sure I have her a look that would have scared off the fainter of heart; I couldn’t recall ever meeting anyone who jammed out to show tunes.

But she broke down my crusty wannabe-punk rock exterior to reveal a closeted musical theater fanatic—and it all began with that first song that was streaming from her speakers. It was “Popular,” Kristin Chenoweth’s standout number from Wicked, the smash Broadway hit based on The Wizard of Oz that wonders –

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