APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Flying monkeys, flashy shoes, pointy hats, and wicked news – these are only a few descriptions murmured throughout the crowd as the musical Wicked graced the stage at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center (PAC).

Two Local 5 Digital Content Producers were able to become spectators for the night – one a seasoned theater veteran, while the other watched as a first-timer.

Below are the seasoned veteran’s thoughts of the night as they took their unsuspecting friend and coworker to their first (of hopefully many) musical performances at the Fox Cities PAC.

Know Before You Go

Before heading off to the show, the Fox Cities PAC sends helpful information on what visitors can expect.

With the pandemic still raging on, the PAC requests staff and patrons ages 2 and older to wear masks while inside (when they are not actively eating or drinking).

Additionally, the PAC provides information regarding what can be brought into the theater and the possibility to pre-order food and beverages before the performance.

The biggest help this regular theater-goer noticed was the ease of parking. If you don’t feel like paying a $5 fee to park in the Green Ramp, next to the theater, PAC has valet parking available for $12 on Division Street, located to the side of the center.

Inclusive For All

Before thinking an adventure on the yellow brick road is not possible, we urge you to check the PAC website to see what they offer for accessibility.

The theater has wheelchair-accessible seats and elevators for those who cannot take the stairs. Another impressive accomplishment this seasoned spectator noticed was a helpful app for the hearing impaired called GalaPro.

To be short and sweet, like Glinda the Good, GalaPro is able to deliver automated multilingual subtitles, closed captioning, dubbing, audio description, and amplification to your own mobile device. To read more about it, click here.

A Night To Remember

My coworker, who hadn’t been to a large production like Wicked before, seemed to be shocked by the number of guests roaming the streets and standing in lines, waiting for their much-anticipated tickets which opened the doors to a place much like Oz.

After your entrance is granted, guests are able to roam the vast rooms housing Wicked merchandise, pick from a variety of beverages, and take part in a photo booth to commemorate the night.

Making sure NOT to almost lose my friend in the buzzing crowd, it felt like there were emerald glasses over my eyes as we walked through the theater, which seemed to come alive with green lights, colorful banners, and the telltale dragon sitting at its post above the stage.

Finally, sitting in our seats for the night, the show started. We experienced, for the first time or millionth time, the other side of the Wizard of Oz. A story of two friends who try to find happiness – with magic, singing, and lots of fog.

When intermission struck, my friend seemed to think the show was over. However, having seen Wicked a few heel-tapping times myself, we made sure to stay in our seats and wait for the second act.

Lynn Murphy and Ruth Ann Heeter

We also made a few new friends. Sitting next to us for the night was Lynn Murphy and Ruth Ann Heeter with the Fox Cities Magazine.

One of the best things the Fox Cities PAC seems to do is bring locals together – whether to just watch the performance or help make it possible.

In the end, after bows and a standing ovation, crowds dispersed as quickly as the fog. Humming our favorite Wicked tunes, we waited our turn before heading to our cars.

For me, the night was as magical as the first time my eyes saw the glittering map of Oz and the metal dragon sleeping above. For my coworker, I hope, it sparks a love for theater much like my own.

If you haven’t seen a musical yet, I recommend dipping your toes into the theater world with this classic Broadway spectacle. For those who have already seen the story unfold on stage, I recommend you go see it while it’s still showing in the Appleton area through Nov. 14.

For Wicked dates/times and other future shows, click here to learn more.