Friday night, my dad and I flew into the city. We had tickets for the 8pm performance, and we arrived around 6. Now to most of y'all, it's no secret that I love Donna Vivino, and I have had several missed chances to see her in the past, where I miss her by one day. First was Cleveland in 2008, Donna was on the night before I went. Then later that year in Buffalo, she went on the night after. Then when the tour came round to Cleveland in 2009, she was lead, and she was also on vacation when I had tickets, and last summer she was on the whole two weeks leading up to me seeing the show, and then went on the night after. So I had not had the best luck seeing Donna Vivino. Well Jackie Burns has been ill recently, and had been out for several weeks leading up to this performance and I had a good feeling about seeing Donna. But as I arrived at the airport where I had my layover, there was no tweet from Donna indicating that she would be on, as there usually is when she performs. I knew Vicki Noon had done the Thursday night show, but I didn't think she would end up doing the Friday show. Well, upon landing, I immediately checked Donna's twitter. No tweet. the 8pm curtain was drawing nearer, and my dad and I went to the theatre to solve the mystery of the unknown green girl. I went into the lobby, and saw the understudy board from a distance, and I saw that Elphaba would be played by *blur.* So it took me a few moments to get over to the u/s board, but when I did, I saw that Elphaba would be played by Vicki Noon. Now, I love Vicki, don't get me wrong. (You'll hear about how amazing she was in just a minute) but I had so desperately been hoping to see Donna Vivino go green at last. But I began looking forward to seeing Vicki, an Elphaba I had never seen before! Well, as I was going up the stairs, through a turn of events that I will not discuss here, it occurred to me that I didn't have plans the next day during the day. I knew the chances were good that Donna would be on, and so I went and bought a ticket for the matinee. Now, before y'all judge: I love Wicked to death and I am not sick of it, nor could I ever be. I bought the ticket fully realizing that Donna might not be on. I love the show, so I knew I would be happy with whoever performed! I then went into the theatre. I had third row seats and they were incredible. I am not a seat snob, I can usually be happy anywhere in the theatre, but I might have to start sitting up close every time if the tickets are not outrageous, because these seats were AMAZING. (see picture below)
Well, the show started and it was incredible.
I noticed new things that I have never noticed before. First of all, all three performances were some of the best performances of the show that I have ever seen. The ensemble still looks very motivated, even the people who have been doing the show for a while. I loved watching their reactions to Glinda, and the faces they made, etc. The dancing was top notch, and several people stood out to me. Eddie Pendergraft was particularly loud, his harmonies really stood out, Lindsay Northen is always a stand out too, and she looked at me at the very end of the opening number. The orchestra was solid. Very solid, much better than last summer if possible! I loved getting to see the costumes so close. Glinda's bubble dress and Elphaba's Act 2 dress are so cool up close, and It was awesome getting to see all of the actor's facial expressions as well, it really added to it.
I'll now review the leads! I am only going to review them all once, because with the exception of Sunday night, the cast was all the same.
Well, I came back for the Sunday night show, and the same cast was on...with one exception. I FINALLY got to see Donna Vivino as Elphaba. And people...she was PERFECT. I mean she was INCREDIBLE as Elphaba. On Sunday night, there was a bubble malfunction, Alli came down 10 seconds late, I could see the bottom of the bubble and her feet in the rafters. The ensemble all ad libbed their way through it, with statements like "look! It's....is it? I can't tell! She's too far away!" And then it resumed like normal. Anyway, on to Donna Vivino. She ran out with a huge smile on her face, and did a hilarious job with the first scene. "The Wizard and I" was the best I have ever heard it, Donna had a huge smile on her face the whole time, and her vocals were extremely powerful. She did a cool little vocal roll on the word "Team" and her last few big notes gave me goosebumps. She was great in "What is this Feeling" as well, doing an imitation of Alli on "your voice" and sounding perfect through the rest of the song. :) She acted really well opposite Tom Flynn, who you could tell she had chemistry with after doing the tour with him. She had a genuine concern for Dillamond that shone through in her body language. I loved her scene in Dancing Through Life with Kyle, you could sense the chemistry between the two characters. She was more angry than hurt that Glinda tricked her, she ripped the hat off her head, and stormed down center and looked at Glinda with a "Really? Thanks a lot." expression on her face and then just did her own thing. She seemed very uncomfortable with the idea of being Popular as Alli wanted her to be, which worked very well, and her imitations of Alli's hip thrusts were hilarious. It was probably the best Lion Cup scene I have ever seen, she and Kyle Dean worked so well with each other, and she went on to perform the best "I'm Not that Girl" I have ever heard. She played up the betrayed emotions extremely well in the Wizard scene, she was so heartbroken that her hero lied to her, which was awesomely done, most Elphabas do a great job there, but Donna truly did. Then... Defying Gravity. This is the song in the show that determines how much I am going to love an Elphaba. Everyone I have seen play the role has done an incredible job capturing the triumphance at the end of the song. DG really builds, and Donna sang the best version of the song I have ever heard live. The best version I have ever heard, actually. She didn't do every one of her usual riffs, but from the minute she said "It's me!" I found myself gripping the armrests on either side of me, and I had goosebumps the whole time. She has a very clear and loud belt, and all of the power notes were perfect, and spot on, especially the second "Bring me down." on "I'm flying high, defYYYYing gravity!" was the best I have ever heard Donna do it (based on bootlegs). She is honestly such an incredible vocalist. Her act two was even better than her act one. One of the coolest things about Elphaba is that Act 1 is a huge chance for whoever plays her to show off vocal ability, but act 2 is extremely dramatic and a chance to dig deep, but still with a killer solo song. Again, the best scene with the Wizard I have ever seen. "You have! You have harmed me!" was perfect line delivery from Donna. She expressed hurt, betrayal, anger, and frustration with her situation. One of my favorite lines in the show is "Don't you think I wish I could? I'd do anything to turn back the clocks! Go back to a time when I actually believed you were wonderful. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. No one believed in you more than I did." That line is so important, and Donna delivered it perfectly. "As Long as You're Mine" was again, the best I have ever seen. I believed every second of that song, the passion between the two of them was very tangible, although I couldn't see all of her through most of the song, I had a very good view of Kyle's back. Haha! But it was fine. I loved the Fallen House scene, she is very funny! And No Good Deed. Again, the best I have ever heard. She stuck to the score for the most part, but really let loose on the big "Fiyeroooooo!" which was incredible, the emotion in the song was overwhelming. For Good was stunning, the melting tragic, and the Finale touching. I wanted to jump up and scream "I LOVE YOU DONNA!" as the curtain went down, but I restrained myself. Donna is my new favorite Elphaba. Carmen Cusack will always have a special place in my green heart, but Donna really went above and beyond on Sunday and nailed her performance.
STAGE DOOR: I have made a decision to post who all I met, but I am going to keep most of the details to myself, because I feel like it's a little tacky to post full conversations with people, it makes it seem like they are very staged, and like I am trying to brag which they aren't, and I am not :) . Not a ton of people came out after any of the three shows, but I did get several between the three, and have met most of the rest in years past.
Friday night, I got to meet Lindsay Wood, Kelly LaFarga, Betsy Werbel, Heather Spore, Lindsay K. Northen, Rhea Patterson, F. Michael Haynie, Catherine Charlebois, Adam Grupper, Alli Mauzey, and Vicki Noon. I had nice conversations with all of them, Vicki and Alli in particular. It was great getting to meet them!
Sunday night, I got to meet Lindsay Wood, Eddie Pendergraft, Heather Spore, Betsy Werbel, Jerad Bortz, Catherine Charlebois, F. Michael Haynie, Adam Grupper, Randy Danson and Donna Vivino!