Ashanti once clicked her heels together as Dorothy, but for one night, she was the Wicked Witch of the West.
For a special performance of “Wicked” — the Broadway musical in which you learn the Wicked Witch in “The Wizard of Oz” wasn’t so wicked after all — Ashanti joined former castmembers from the show, as well as celebs such as Mario Cantone, Joy Behar, George Wendt and Matthew Settle from “Gossip Girl,” in a charity performance on Monday called “The Yellow Brick Road Not Taken.” The production featured never-before-seen scenes and songs from a rough draft of the first act, with proceeds benefitting the New York Restoration Project.
Though some of the celebs couldn’t sing quite as well as Broadway regulars, Wendt (as the Wizard) got points from the audience just for trying. (Behar didn’t try at all, but instead read her lines with a sense of rhythm that implied song.) Settle tackled a love song, “As If By Magic,” while Cantone brought down the house with his ad-libbed rendition of “Popular.” (Both Behar and Cantone made digs at Palin and McCain in their songs.)
But Ashanti had the best number of all — the showstopping “Defying Gravity,” in which she started to sing solo, but then was joined by the two actresses playing the popular-but-flighty Galinda (who becomes Glinda, the so-called “good witch”) and Elphaba (the outcast green girl who is painted as “wicked” by a propaganda campaign). “Come join me,” Ashanti — wearing a light-green dress in ode to her character — sang to them. “Think of what we could do together.”
Now that she’s played both good and bad, if she had to pick between Dorothy and Elphaba, Ashanti told MTV News she’d pick the not-so-wicked witch any day. “You know what,” she said, “they both have their own flavor. [But if there were a movie of ‘Wicked,’] I’d be the bad one. She’s got the spice. And people remember her.”