*Let me set the record straight before I begin talking about stage dooring before the show. First: I do not think I have been rude to anyone ever before a show about signing (or after for that matter). Before the show, most actors in a show will enter via the stage door. When I see Wicked, I like to meet everyone that I can simply because the show and the performers amaze me and are very important to me (not in a creepy stalker way). I am fully prepared for anyone to not be willing to sign before a show because that is their time, and usually people do not wait for them before shows. I ask everyone that I see to sign. Luckily, no one has ever said no, but I am always prepared for it.
That being said, I am EXTREMELY lucky that I decided to wait before the show, because several cast members (including Jackie and Kyle Dean) did NOT come out after the matinee, and I really wanted to meet them. First of all, let me tell you, I FINALLY met Chandra Lee Schwartz! Woohoo! I guess there's a curse on me that I never meet my Cleveland Glinda's when they are actually IN Cleveland. I missed both Katie Clarke and Chandra in Cleveland and met them in NYC. I think that's really funny actually. However, YAY! Also, if you recall, my 8th time, (Torns & Schwartz) only a few of the leads came out after that matinee. Well, I have finally met all of them! :)
BY THE WAY: I had just come from a voice lesson with Felicia Ricci, who did the show in San Francisco as the Standby for Elphaba, and that is why there is a picture of me and her on this post.
Before the matinee, I got to meet (in approximate order) Heather Spore, Randy Danson (Madame Morrible), Jerad Bortz, Kristina Fernandez, Desi Oakley, Chandra Lee Schwartz (Glinda), Adam Grupper (The Wizard), Brandon Tyler, Kevin Jordan Robin Wilner, Kathy Santen, Mark Shunkey, Michael DeVries (Dr. Dillamond that day), Rhea Patterson, Jonathan McGill, Jonathan Warren, Nova Bergeron, Etai BenShlomo (Boq), Dioni Collins, Kate Fahrner (s/b Glinda), Lindsay Northen, Jenny Fellner (Nessarose), Eddie Pendergraft, Alexander Quirgoa, Amanda Rose, Jackie Burns (Elphaba), Caroline Bowman, Kyle Dean Massey (Fiyero) and Donna Vivino (s/b Elphaba).
Michael DeVries: I saw him as Dillamond in 2009. He was good then, but he has improved leaps and bounds. He was funnier, and just added more variety to the role. He has a nice voice, and really made the most of his relatively short stage time. My personal favorites are Tom Flynn and Peter Ermides, but Michael is very good when he goes on for this role.
Etai BenShlomo: a VERY good Boq. He is much taller than lots of the people who play this role, and has a slightly deeper voice, but it still worked well. He was very funny, and he had really good chemistry with Chandra and Jenny. His Governor's mansion scene was really solid, very dramatic. One thing I have always admired about Boq is that he has a goal. He gets pulled into a crappy situation, and as soon as it looks like it may be over, he tries to get out of it. Of course, things don't end so well for him, but he knows what he wants, and he does all he can to get it. And Etai really showed Boq's drive and ambition.
Jenny Fellner: I saw her in 2010, and she has improved wildly as well, again, she was great last time too. But WOW. Her voice has gotten richer, and she sounded great! Again, Nessa goes on a journey from being a spoiled but innocent girl, to a corrupted political figure. Jenny shows that evolution well. She really does. Her voice sounded great, and her acting was phenomenal as well.
Adam Grupper: One of my favorite Wizards. He sang ALL of his parts, as opposed to some other Wizard's who speak sing (both work for different people). But he (along with Mark Jacoby and Lee Wilkof) is the best sung Wizard I have ever seen. He was funny, and had great chemistry with Jackie Burns.
Randy Danson: Great performance! Very evil, but charming at the same time. I love her scene with Chandra in the Ozdust Ballroom. In the Wizard Chamber scene, she imitated Chandra's voice so well when she said "NO!" During Thank Goodness, she began to lose her voice, and Chandra actually had to sing some of her line because Randy was coughing, but they covered it up extremely well, and it went off without anyone noticing. She is just phenomenal in this role.
Kyle Dean Massey: I had read reviews of him that said he seemed bored in the role. Could not be any further from the truth. He gave a very dynamic performance as Fiyero. His voice is SO strong, he is a GREAT dancer, and you watched him transform throughout the show. As Long As You're Mine was just...great. He and Jackie were all over each other which of course is perfect for that moment. And obviously, he was great in Columbus 5 years ago for his first performance, but he has gotten more comfortable with the role and he was even better.
Chandra Lee Schwartz: I have seen most of this cast before, just not together, and Chandra has changed the most. She was really great in Cleveland, don't get me wrong, but WOW she was INCREDIBLE. Even though AJC and KRC are my favorites still, Chandra just has something about her that makes her Glinda. That wig, and those costumes just WORK for her, and her voice fits the part so so so well. She sang several things up the octave in What is this Feeling and Popular which was awesome. She has gotten funnier especially during Popular, where her own little individual nuances came through and she made the number her own. Her "That may be your secret Elphaba but it doesn't make it true" line was great, and then almost as if she was thinking "Wait, this is waaaay too serious a conversation for me to be having!" she shook her head, did jazz hands around Jackie's head and said"poof!" Emerald City was great, as was the scene with the Grimmerie, and Defying Gravity. As I recall from Cleveland, she didn't do much belting during Thank Goodness, and this time she totally did, and it was GREAT. She sounds amazing. Fiyero's "Betrayal" scene was very well acted on her part, she genuinely seemed heartbroken. She did really well in For Good as well, and the Finale is always very moving.
Jackie Burns: As much as I wanted to see Donna Vivino, Jackie just....so incredible. First off, Matinee audiences on Broadway suck about 99 percent of the time (not usually on tour), and the audience that day wasn't giving much till the end of "Wizard and I". Jackie came onstage in all of her green glory with a smile that had me convinced I was in for a good show. First, Jackie walks (onstage) slightly hunched over, which I thought added a brilliant dynamic to the character. She seemed 'weirder' almost because she was this girl who loves to read, and she walks around keeping to herself. Her hand motions were very 'dorky' in the beginning, very awkward, which was a great acting choice, and just added more to her social isolation. She knocked Wizard and I out of the ballpark, and the audience was cheering at the end. She phrased things in the song very differently than I am used to hearing, and it worked. As soon as she got to "All to do with meeeee" her voice just...opened up, and then came the chills. What is This Feeling was great too. She and Chandra sounded great together. After being "Galindafied" when she and Fiyero sat down on the same bench, she saw that he sat by her, and quickly scooted down a bit, and brushed her skirt, which showed how uncomfortable the idea of being in love was to her. I'm Not that Girl was great, and she actually ended it up the octave instead of the low ending that we all know, which I actually liked a bit better! OSD was awesome, she seemed thrilled and overwhelmed. The Wizard's chamber was very well acted on her part, especially the horror of what she had done, and realizing "God has no powers!" Defying Gravity was loud and powerful which is how it should be. When she rose into the air, she didn't do her usual growling on"I'm the one you want!" She sounded much more nervous, which was great, and of course, the minute she sang "It's meeee!" the chills and goosebumps came back. She BLEW me AWAY with DG. One of the best I have ever heard. Act 2 was great too. She was great in her scene with Jenny, and she really brought a finality to that scene, where you KNOW something is gonna happen and they will never see each other again. Again, As Long as You're Mine was amazing too. The Fallen House scene was awesome and hilarious, mostly on Chandra's part, but Jackie made it funny too. No Good Deed. Teal who? Just kidding, but Jackie delivered the best performance of that number I have ever heard. She did things I had never heard before, and did an INSANELY high Fiyero riff that gave me chills. For Good was amazing, and she was so convincing. And of course her harmonies in the Finale were haunting. Jackie Burns gets an A+ from me!
The ensemble is doing very well as always. Lindsay K. Northen's mic must have been on slighly higher than the others because I could hear her extremely well, but I'm not complaining cause she's great! Caroline Bowman sounded great on her solos as did the rest. The choreography was up to par, and their blended sound was great. The orchestra was also better than it was last summer when I saw it in NYC, not that they were bad, but I could hear little guitar riffs and they did a really phenomenal job with Defying Gravity especially. Lights, sets, costumes all A+. This was a phenomenal trip to see the show and I cannot wait until my next trip to Oz!
After the Show: I knew Jackie, Kyle Dean, and Randy for sure were not coming out, but I wanted to go back and meet Chandra and some of the others again just because I enjoy telling them how amazing they are, and getting to talk to other fans. I got to meet Vicki Noon (who I had known was replacing Caroline, but didn't expect to be there), Alicia Albright, Lindsay Janisse, Nova Bergeron, Dioni Michelle Collins, Colby Lindeman, John Schiappa, Amanda Rose, Michael DeVries, Etai BenShlomo and Adam Grupper.