Wicked

Yesterday, Lily and I went to see Wicked (careful, spoilers!). It was my second time seeing it. What follows is not a review, but rather selected moments that other people who know Wicked might be able to sympathize with. And a recording of memories. It is not a review because my recommendation is already to go see it; it’s part of that upper echelon of musicals that have good music, good humor, and a point, all in one show, and I very much enjoyed seeing it for the second time last night.

  • Karin, you’re probably wondering why you’re tagged in the Facebook copy of this. During “Dancing Through Life”, at least, the actress who played Nessarose (Laura Dysarczyk) reminded me of you. She has a similar singing style, including the occasional “high tense front vowel” (ee-sound) thrown in at the beginning of a phrase. …when I make these comparisons, just take them as compliments, OK? *grin*
  • Speaking of Nessarose, I love her song in the second act and wish it was on the CD, or available in high quality somewhere. The very title is a spoiler, which is probably part of the reason why it’s not on there, but it makes me sad.
  • The chorus was really good in this production, very full on all the parts. And a live orchestra is of course so much better than the recording.
  • I actually preferred my “original” Elphaba, by which I mean Eden Espinosa, of the traveling show two? three? four? years ago. (She was the understudy on the original Broadway cast, under Idina Menzel.) Vicki Noon, our Elphaba last night, was somehow not quite the same. Perhaps that’s just imprinting on the first show you see, though.
  • In that vein, I actually didn’t agree with a good two-hands-ful of artistic choices in this production. I’m not going to list them, mostly because they’ve already much faded by now, but there things I would have done differently to tell a truer story. (Which is how I see this whole production: what really happened in Oz. Heh.)
  • But to counter the previous two points, one thing I felt more strongly is how young Elphaba is as she’s thrust into this world and series of events. Most likely she’s younger than we are now. And that’s telling a bit of the story I didn’t see before.
  • If you have the CD and you think you have most of the show, guess again. Not only are you missing the spoken plot twists (that’s intentional, I’m sure), and Nessa’s song, but the actual performance has a lot more music, underneath the dialogue, during transitions, etc. “Dancing Through Life” is the prime example of this; you thought it was long before, but there are several variations on the theme all throughout the actual show, under dialogue. And choreo, of course. The “real” ending of “Dancing Through Life” is…well, it was more moving music, at least.
  • There are some points in this show where I can’t help but smile, the key one, of course, being when Elphaba comes out on her broomstick during “Defying Gravity”. Amazing singing during an emotional scene. (Whatever else I might say, her voice was also really good.)
  • Of course, there are plenty of in-jokes, referring to the original Wizard of Oz story (the book and the movie both, actually).
  • One of my friends (I think Candace?) pointed out that the romance of the musical sort of pales in comparison to the relationship between Glinda and Elphaba. I suppose this is true overall, but I actually thought it worked pretty well in this production.
  • At the very end, after the bows, as the curtain (actually a map of Oz) was falling for the last time, you could see cast members who couldn’t resist dancing to the final instrumental rendition of “One Short Day”. Not choreographed dancing, just crazy, in-place dancing, for each other and not the audience. That 15 seconds of seeing that made me miss Drama / stage productions all over again.
  • I’m going to avoid the soundtrack today at least so as not to lose the effect of yesterday.

Thanks for setting it up, Lily. This was definitely worth seeing again!

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