Amanda Jane Cooper, left, and Jessica Vosk are stellar in “Wicked,” now at Shea’s through June 4.

Few musicals in the past quarter-century have inspired a more passionate reaction from young fans than "Wicked," which makes its fourth visit since 2008 to Shea's Performing Arts Center (646 Main St.) starting May 17.

The show's appeal has something to do with Stephen Schwartz's addictive melodies, which range from frothy musical comedy pastiches ("Popular") to high-octane ballads ("Defying Gravity"). It has something to do with the inexhaustible appeal of "The Wizard of Oz," which provides the imaginative fuel for the story, based on Gregory Maguire's book of the same name.

But mostly, it has to do with the story's deep resonance with young women, who have found versions of themselves and their own lives in the musical's central characters. Those characters, Glinda and Elphaba, are super-powered versions of your average high school girls. One is the glamorous cheerleader type, the other a shy and bookish nerd with an inferiority complex. How they come to terms with their divergent paths is a large part of what makes the show endlessly viewable for a certain audience who first encountered it in their teens and tweens.

This tour lands in Shea's for a nearly three-week run from May 17 to June 4. Tickets start at $42. Call 847-1410 or visit sheas.org.

email: cdabkowski@buffnews.com

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