Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wicked UK Announces New Leads from 7/24.

Sophie Evans and Alice Fearn
Taking over for Oz's favorite team on July 24th at the Apollo Victoria Theatre will be current standby for Elphaba Alice Fearn, and star of BBC Talent Show Over The Rainbow, and subsequently The Wizard of Oz Sophie Evans as Glinda.

In addition, the company will welcome former Wicked UK/International tour star Bradley Jaden as Fiyero, Les Mis star Melanie La Barrie as Madame Morrible, Phantom's Andy Hockley as The Wizard, Jack Lansbury as Boq and Laura Pick as the Elphaba standby.

Current stars Willemijin Verkaik, Suzie Mathers, Oliver Savile, Sue Kelvin, Mark Curry and Idriss Kargbo will play their final performances in Oz on July 22, 2017.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wicked Rochester, 4/9 1pm REVIEW!


On April 9, 2017 I took a very last minute trip to Rochester, NY to catch the Munchkinland Tour of Wicked's closing matinee performance there.  I had never seen Wicked (or any show) in Rochester before and was quite excited to go see the show on such a whim.  I of course knew that the chances of seeing Jessica Vosk were almost 0%, because Emily Schultheis typically does the Sunday matinees, but I was excited to see her as well.  In addition, this would be my boyfriend's first time seeing Wicked ever!




Upon arriving inside, we found that not only would Emily be performing, but Garrett Have would be playing Boq.  I was a little disappointed that Andy Mientus was out of the show, because I have been a huge fan of his for a long time.

First of all, I just want to make a note about the Auditorium Theatre.  I do not make a point to complain about 'customer service' on the internet whenever I can avoid it.  However the staff at the Auditorium was incredibly rude.  I was appalled.  From the snooty and rude stage door security, to the ushers yelling at people for taking selfies, and subsequently forcing them to delete literally any picture taken inside the house at all, to the questionably racist rant I experienced from my usher at intermission, the staff at the Auditorium Theatre NOTABLY dampened the experience.

The show itself was of course good.  It was not the strongest performance of Wicked I had ever seen. However, in general, I chalked it up to being very muted by the experience I had with the ushers and other staff members, and nerves because I really hoped my boyfriend would enjoy the show.  In addition, the sound was atrocious.  The theatre did not seem to have the best acoustics, and since we were all the way off to the side, a lot of the sound got lost.

The cast on tour, however is very strong.  I am writing this in the midst of the run in Buffalo where I have already seen it a handful of times (I will be writing a review after it closes there!) and they truly have become one of my favorite casts in general.  Notable standouts in Rochester included Ginna Claire Mason, Kristen Martin, Fred Applegate and Isabel Keating.

Emily Schultheis was a strong Elphaba.  She is not the best I have ever seen, but I enjoyed her a great deal.  After seeing her a second time in Buffalo (again, new review coming soon!) I enjoyed her even more.  Her voice is really beautiful, and really excels and shines during songs like For Good and Defying Gravity, particularly the end. Her 'The Wizard and I' was at least as strong vocally as Jennifer DiNoia's, perhaps a little stronger.  It's a little less dynamic in terms of emotion, but just a little.  She didn't do anything particularly different than any other Elphaba, but she did a nice job with the song.  I thought she and Ginna had found a nice chemistry together for only having been on a few times together at that point.  Her Elphaba is very stubborn and nerdy.  Defying Gravity was the highlight of her performance, the end was very loud and resonant and blasted right through the sound issues at the theatre.  Her No Good Deed was not as dynamic as it could have been, but it was still a strong performance of the song.  For Good showed off the really beautiful and intimate sides of her voice.  She is also such a cute person offstage, and was adorable with the kids at the stage door.  I really like her a lot.  And STAY TUNED because I thought she was much stronger in Buffalo :)


Ginna Claire Mason was just as good as I remembered her being from last June in New York.  I was so excited to see her again, and she didn't disappoint.  She has such a pretty voice and she is so cute onstage and off (see stage door pictures!).  I cannot wait to see where this role takes her.  She has such fun chemistry with Jeremy Woodard.  She also worked really well with Isabel Keating, and since then she has only grown.  She was incredible in the opening number, her soprano is very floaty and resonant and she is a very dynamic actress.  Her strongest moment is in Thank Goodness, where she delivers a very emotional punch to the heart.  Her performance of that song is very layered and touching, and her belt comes out of it's shell and truly shines.  Popular was not quite as hammed up as it is with Carrie St. Louis or Kara Lindsay, but it's still quite funny, especially her Toss, Toss moment.   

Jeremy Woodard did a nice job as Fiyero too, I believe I gushed about him in my last review of the 2NT, but he is still out there killing it.  I love his voice and his accent.  He is also a really strong dancer, and i loved his chemistry with Ginna (Especially the moment in DTL where she checks out his butt as her turns and he smirks at her afterward.)
Kristen Martin is one of the stronger vocalists I have seen play Nessarose which is always a pleasant surprise.  She actually belts and takes control of WWOTE, which doesn't always happen.  I also really like her in Act 1, she chose to have a lot of quiet, silly moments with Emily just via facial expression so that I felt a sense that Elphaba was not taking care of Nessa out of a sense of obligation, but love and desire for her to be okay.
Garrett Hawe was a reasonably good Boq.  Not a standout for me, but not bad by any means!  I LOVE his voice, I always have.  He just didn't seem like the most natural fit for the character in most respects, including his height.  Still, I enjoyed him.

Isabel Keating reminded me a lot of Alison Fraser, which I liked.  She's very charming and sweet in Act 1, even with Dr. Dillamond which is not common.  I LOVE her Defying Gravity speech as well.  I have more to say when I review Buffalo :)  I am trying to keep thoughts separate from this trip and all the ones made so far in Buffalo.  But Isabel did a really fantastic job in both cities.
Fred Applegate was a charming Wizard that I liked very much.  He is not quite as unique in his take as Peter Scolari or John Davidson, but I really like his voice a lot, he actually sings his parts really really well, and he delivers on the few 'money notes' that the Wizard has.  I was very impressed by him.


The ensemble in Rochester was absolutely stolen by Chase Madigan, John Krause, Michael Drolet and Olivia Polci.  Absolute stars in their own rights.  I can always hear Michael, he is very loud.  Olivia's solos are always beautiful, and Chase/John are just very much eye-grabbing and attention-commanding.  I really liked them

I can't wait to get more in depth for my Buffalo review.  But apart from the horrible theatre, I really enjoyed the experience I had in Rochester! :)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Wicked on Broadway, May 13, 2pm.

I was in the city this past weekend and ended up getting to see Wicked on a random lottery win!  The only change to the cast was that Jody Gelb is now playing Madame Morrible for a few weeks (with Sheryl Lee Ralph returning at the beginning of June).  I didn't take many pictures, either unfortunately but I will provide here what I DID take!

Jennifer DiNoia is still killing it as Elphaba.  She's still as passionate as ever.  She was a little sick I believe, having been out the night before, but she gave a very strong performance and continued to remind me why I love her in the role so much.  I've written extensively about Jenny before so I feel as though doing it again is a bit extensive.  But she was lovely as ever!

Kara Lindsay is so excellent in the role of Glinda and I am very happy that I got the chance to see her again.  Her voice is beautiful and she is one of the stronger Glinda vocalists I have seen.  She's doing a wonderful job and I cannot wait to see what is next for her.

Michael Campayno continues to impress me, he keeps Fiyero interesting, and he is one of the nicest people ever, taking time to talk to me after the show, ask about my life and so forth, even though it was pouring down rain outside.  I absolutely love him onstage and off.

 

Jody Gelb did a really awesome job as Madame Morrible.  I saw her on the tour in 2011 when it hit Pittsburgh, and remember liking her, but she has not been a top Madame Morrible for me.  Sheryl Lee Ralph is absolutely excellent in the role, and incredibly memorable, but Jody gave a very solid performance.  She did mess up at one point (while threatening Glinda in Act 2) but it was forgivable and she kept going.  It made for quite a funny moment too.

The supporting cast. Zach, Dawn, P.J., and Chad are all as strong as ever, but I don't have heaps of new things to write about them :)  I absolutely love the current Broadway cast and recommend seeing them while they are all still there!  I do believe a few of them are nearing the ends of their contracts!









Mariand Torres to succeed Alyssa Fox as Elphaba standby, 6/12.

Mariand Torres will replace Alyssa Fox as the standby for Elphaba in the Broadway company of Wicked.  Torres previously served as the Elphaba standby on the now-closed Emerald City tour of Wicked from 2010 until 2012.  Torres most recently appeared on Broadway in In Transit, the first a cappella musical to ever reach the great white way.  After over five years, it will be so exciting to see Mariand in the green again! Congratulations!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Wicked on Broadway March 4th, 5th and 9th 2017, e.



I got to see the show three times this week in New York!  I also do realize that I have been MIA for a little bit.  Senior year of college is incredibly jam packed full of things to do, and its been very rapid fire.  I promise to improve the flow on this website!

Anyway: My views from 3/4, 3/5 and 3/9 respectively:

 

Jennifer DiNoia continues to amaze me in the role of Elphaba.  She still is in it.  She remains completely in the moment and totally engaged with everyone onstage around her, and I think that is absolutely incredible for as long as she's been doing this show and playing this role.  There is a maturity about her performance.  She's calm and confident and her voice shines.  She has cut most of her signature riffs (which seems to have begun in December) and even though I do miss them and the additional originality it brought to her performance, she still blows me away without them.  On this contract, I saw her first four times with Carrie St. Louis, her first three performances and her fifth.  They did a very nice job together, but obviously that was at the beginning of her contract with a totally new Glinda.  Her chemistry with Kara made total sense and was absolutely phenomenal.  The two of them had really lovely and charming moments together all throughout the show, but the first Gelphie dance in Dancing Through Life, Popular, the scene right before One Short Day, the witch fight and For Good all stood out.   Kara and Jenny's harmonies and vocal power blew me away, particularly during 'What Is This Feeling?'  and the Finale.  Absolutely beautiful.  I have now seen Jenny 10 times in this role, which is so far my most seen.  One time during her original standby contract in New York, twice on the Second National Tour, four times in August 2016, three times in March 2017.  She has grown and amazes me with her talent and humility each time.

Kara Lindsay is a new Glinda for me somehow, even though she's been doing this show for a few years now.  I really loved her.  Amanda Jane Cooper holds a sentimental and personal favorite place in my heart, and Carrie St. Louis is almost untouchable in my eyes, but Kara Lindsay found her way up to their level.  I didn't connect with her QUITE as much as I did with Carrie so many times, but not by much.  She has a deeply layered performance in this role.  Her voice is absolutely beautiful first of all.  NOMTW, Popular, Thank Goodness, For Good and the Finale were all incredible moments from Kara vocally.  Her voice is strong, robust and emotive, but also allows time for delicate moments. As an actress, she is very natural in this role.  We have all seen Kara on Think Pink, and it's natural to view her as very goofy and silly much of the time.  However, her Glinda matured beautifully throughout the show.  The opening found her, like others, very distraught and trying to hide it.  But from Dear Old Shiz to One Short Day, she's a total hoot, and then the wheels in her head start turning and the growth begins.  By her final scene with Elphaba before the *spoiler* melting */spoiler* she was commanding and emotional.  I absolutely loved it.

I saw two different guys play Fiyero this week.  Michael Campayno for 2/3 and Dan Gleason for the other.  Michael is still incredible, he seems way more comfortable in the role than he did in August.  I believe he was a little sick on 3/4 evening (he was out both shows the next day), and yet he was still awesome.  3/9 he was back, and in even better form.  His voice is really pretty and smooth, and he has a lovely vibrato.  He dances well, and it is clear onstage that he has a great offstage relationship with Jenny and Kara.  They all play off each other well.  My favorite MC moment is the train station scene, where he tells Elphaba what he has been thinking about as though it's very hard for him to articulate deep thought and then smiles at her like he's accomplished something huge.  He also has a nice maturation throughout the show.  I really like him in this role and cannot wait to see him again.  

Dan Gleason was also an exceptional Fiyero.  I love Michael but I always love seeing
understudies go on, and I haven't seen an understudy as Fiyero in almost ten full years, since Kyle Dean Massey made his Fiyero debut in 2007.  His voice is really pleasant to listen to.  He had some really nice vocal moments that even exceeded Michael, and then some that were not quite up to par with Michael.  His sustained 'life' in DTL was great, supported and excellent.  Dan's best moment however, was As Long As You're Mine.  It was easily the best performance of that song that I've ever heard, largely thanks to him.  I'm so happy I got to see him.


Sheryl Lee Ralph made Madame Morrible a STAR.  I have seen some absolutely incredible actresses play this role, Alison Fraser, Judy Kaye, Carole Shelley, Kathy Fitzgerald and several others have all made Morrible all kinds of positive adjectives.  However, Sheryl brought something entirely new to the role.  Rather than an older lady longing for a chance to get the same opportunities as Elphaba, I saw a woman who absolutely KNEW she would.  She gave a diva's performance.  She sang her role, she thrust her hips, she served face and eyebrow, she was, and I hate using this word, fabulous.  And she knew it.  Which is what made it what it was.  Her best moments were her speech in Defying Gravity, and the 'I hope you prove me wrong' scene in Dancing Through Life.  I absolutely loved her.  Also, thanks for the calendars at the stage door!
P.J. Benjamin is back as the Wizard, and even though he comes back into the show a
ridiculous number of times, he did a really nice job.  Nothing new or exceptional to report, but he's charismatic and fun and has a nice voice! It was cool to see him again since he was the third Wizard I ever saw, I saw him for the first time back in 2006 on tour.  I was in sixth grade, and now I am months away from my college graduation.  So that was pretty cool.


Zach Piser is still where it's at as Boq.  He's charming, adorable and endearing, and he makes Boq super likable and energetic.  I've seen a lot of people play this role and he does stand out due to his energy and charm.  Always lovely meeting him after (and sometimes before  tbh) a show.  Favorite moment: when he (jokingly) (right?) yelled at Michael in front of the Stage Door crowd for signing way too large on playbills.


I also saw two people play Nessa this week.  I saw Dawn Cantwell on 3/4 and 3/5, and Hannah Shankman on 3/9.


Dawn is among my favorite people to play this role, she won my heart big time last summer.  She's a great actress, very sweet, good girl gone bad (sup, Rihanna!) in act two.  She also has a really pretty voice.  And I've heard her voice in this role sixteen times now.  All of last year, she nailed it.  These two times, she still KILLED it as an actress, but something seemed to be a little off vocally.  Due to the fact that she was out of the show on Thursday, I am guessing she has been ill for a little and was just fighting through it.  She still turned in a solid performance both times.  She's still amazing, and her voice is still very good and I hope I get the chance to see her again!

Hannah Shankman.  Guys.  I don't often rave over Nessarose.  But like.  I just praised Dawn as one of my favorites.  But Hannah has the official title, one that has belonged to Carla Stickler since 2011.  This girl brought all of the vocal power in the world to the role.  I haven't heard WWOTE sung like that in a very very long time.  Not only that, she was so sweet as an actress.  Super endearing and lovely.  Her smile during the first act was so gentile and lovely and hopeful.  I fully believed she was a college girl trying to find her footing.  The right insecurity was there, the right look in her eyes was there, she was just so damn good.
Chad Jennings was a real breath of fresh air as Dr. Dillamond.  Absolutely a step up from
his predecessor, who I did like a lot, but had a tendency to overact.  Chad was a lot softer and quieter in the role and I liked him a lot.


The ensemble sounded BANGIN.  Especially sitting up close, everyone sounded so good.  The harmonies were tight, they were loud, it was the best ensemble I've heard in a long while.  Standouts included Lindsay Northen who is still 100% in it after all this time, Erin Wilson who had a really funny moment trying to grab Sheryl's bustle as she walked by at Shiz, the audience ate that up, Lockhart Brownlie, who I couldn't take my eyes off of anytime he was onstage due to his magnetic presence, and Daniel Quadrino, as usual because he's just awesome.  Oz is in some really great hands right now, and I can't wait to get back there and see it again!

Some Pictures!
3/4
3/5
3/9