Tuesday, March 15, 2016

REVIEW: Wicked on Broadway, 3/9/2016 m, 3/10/2016 e, and Behind the Emerald Curtain!

The view for Wednesday's matinee!
After three years I finally got to return to the Gershwin to see Wicked on Broadway!  The last time I saw the show in NYC was in February 2013 with Donna Vivino as Elphaba and Alli Mauzey as Glinda.  Since then I have been able to see it on the road six times (both tours) and in London once, but there will always be something special about returning to see the show in New York.  I am so happy that I got to come back and see it when I did.  From a personal standpoint, a lot of very prominent life events have happened since the last time I saw the show on Broadway and yet the show was still there and I think that's so cool.

On Saturday March 5th, I got to do Behind the Emerald Curtain again for the first time in six years.  Once you have done it once, you've done it.  It doesn't change much.  However, it was still cool to get to see costumes up close, sit in the Gershwin before a show, and hear about the show from the perspectives of two totally different cast members (Jerad Bortz and Heather Spore) from the first time that I took the tour!

Wednesday Afternoon
Thursday Evening
 As for the show itself, I went for the first time on Wednesday, March 9th for the matinee.  The full cast was in, with the exception of Spencer Jones being on for Chistery.  The ensemble remains very strong and motivated.  Especially sitting up close, it's easy to see their facial expressions, hear individual harmonies, and even make eye contact with certain people (I'm looking at you Daniel Quadrino.  Literally).  Lindsay Northen, Jerad Bortz, Heather Spore, Ioana Alfonso, Kathy Santen, and Larkin Bogan have all been doing this show for a very long time, and each of them were 100% in the moment with their faces and reactions.  Larkin, Lindsay, Daniel, Hannah Shankman, Curt Hansen and Dan Gleason really stood out in particular to me.  Dancing was obviously on point(e) and Casey Quinn is always a standout.

The orchestra was good.  They were not quite as loud as usual, nor were they as dynamic as the orchestra always is on tour which was a little disappointing but they still did a very nice job.

The principal cast was awesome this time around.

Rachel Tucker as Elphaba
Carrie St. Louis as Glinda
Jonah Platt as Fiyero
Peter Scolari as The Wizard
Judy Kaye as Madame Morrible
Dawn Cantwell as Nessarose
Zach Piser as Boq
Michael Genet as Dr. Dillamond

Michael Genet was the first Dr. Dillamond in a long time that I have genuinely really really liked.  Not to say I've ever seen a bad one, but Dillamond is a fairly dry role in a lot of respects, though very important and heartbreaking, certainly the most dry in the show.  His voice is really really nice, and he was a solid actor and he emoted well through the mask. He has a deep booming voice and he is very tall which makes it all the more sad when he is taken away from Shiz because he is a powerful being.

Dawn Cantwell
Dawn Cantwell was a solid Nessarose.  Nessarose is not a vocal beast, and I feel that Dawn has more of a voice than the role requires.  However as an actress she nailed every aspect of it.  I never noticed Nessarose wheeling herself off the stage during Dancing Through Life when Elphaba enters wearing the hat.  Dawn's Nessarose is very much embarrassed of Elphaba, evidenced by mannerisms and facial expressions.  She tolerates her and speaks to her when no one is around or when she needs soemthing, but overall seems to seek greener (PUN) pastures.  I really liked her Governor's Mansion scene with Zach and Rachel, she was so rude.  And she sounded very nice singing WWOTE.
Zach Pi
Zach Piser was a wonderful and very adorably believable Boq.  I really liked his chemistry with Carrie and Dawn.  He also seemed like a stunted individual.  One who would be cool if he was just a little more grown up or had just a little more opportunity.  He was a really really well-sung Boq, he has a GREAT voice, and one he could do more with in another role down the road.  He also did a very nice job in the Gov's mansion scene with Dawn and Rachel, even though on Thursday night he hardcore tripped over the Grimmerie running away from her and all three of them looked like they were fighting back laughter. 
Peter Scolari did a nice job as the Wizard, though I wouldn't put him at the top of my list.  He has a nice voice, and is a capable actor.  He overacted parts and he underacted parts.  In the first scene with Elphaba and Glinda in his palace, he came out from behind the head and said "I hope I didn't startle you," and then looked at the head and screamed as though he himself was startled.  While I did appreciate what he was trying to do, it totally failed to land with the audience, as did his 'which is which' line (followed by a long drawn out breathless gasp of laughter).  His 'Sentimental Man' performance was good as was 'Wonderful'.  His best work was in Act 2 with Judy Kaye and Carrie after Elphaba runs off with Fiyero.  I was underwhelmed with his final scene with Carrie, however, when he realizes that he is Elphaba's father.  There was little to no emotion on his face or in his voice, and he didn't seem broken at all when Glinda told him to leave.  I liked him, I wouldn't say I loooooved him like I have others.

Judy Kaye was an AWESOME Madame Morrible.  I don't know how anyone will ever compare to Alison Fraser, because she was absolutely revolutionary in a 10 year old role.  However Judy's strengths were in her facial expressions (very subtle) and her speech at the beginning of Defying Gravity was absolutely phenomenal.  I actually very much appreciated her solo at the beginning of 'The Wizard and I'.  On the cast recording, imitated by many, Carole Shelley phrases her line "Why I predict the wizard could make you his, magic, grand vizer!" as though those are two separate thoughts.  His, and then magic/grand vizer as two exclamations.  And with a subtle shift in phrasing by Judy, "the wizard could make you his magic grand vizer!" It became clear that magic grand vizer is a title.  She stumbled over a line on Thursday ('Oh won't they make excellent spies' became 'Oh think of...what excellent spies they'll make!') and I could see a look of brief confusion on Rachel's face.  I very much liked her act two, especially her "Perhaps a change in the weather!" scene, and her scene at the end with Carrie was phenomenal.

Jonah Platt
Jonah Platt was awesome as Fiyero, better than I expected.  I had heard some questionable reviews regarding his singing and was very happy that he did a nice job vocally.  He tried a vocal flip in Dancing Through Life that didn't quite land but other than that, completely smooth sailing.  His voice is pretty and smooth, he looks the part, and he dances with confidence and precision.  His act two was even better, he still struggled with traces of immaturity but he had grown so much and you could see it in his performance.  I loved his scene off to the side with Carrie St. Louis during Thank Goodness, and I thought As Long As You're Mine was one of the best I have ever seen.  His and Rachel's exit at the end was very touching. 

Carrie St. Louis NAILED IT as Glinda in every single respect you could imagine.  I am very loyal to
Carrie St. Louis
Amanda Jane Cooper and Alli Mauzey, but Carrie is right up there at the top with them.  She did everything right. Her voice is beautiful.  Her No One Mourns the Wicked was gorgeous, and I liked that she incorporated a lot more chest/belt than most people playing Glinda do. Her facial expressions after she explained Elphaba's birth and the citizens still didn't get it were tragic, she looked so lost and saddened. She was hysterical in the Dear Old Shiz scene, and again in What Is This Feeling.  Glinda's little scene with Fiyero in Dancing Through Life always kills me, and Carrie managed to still make it funny after 25 times.  I LOVED her Popular, it was hilarious, especially when she said "Fiyero and I are going to be married!" she jumped up and ran over to Elphaba's bed and screamed "GUUUUURL!" and that was absolutely hysterical.  Glinda always wins my heart over during the train station scene with Elphaba expressing heartache over Fiyero.  She is so entitled and spoiled and we know that, but it shows that she has feelings and heartache just like everyone else, and Carrie was so precious both times.  Carrie's Thank Goodness was the best I have ever scene or heard.  Again, beltier than usual, but even beyond that there was so much EMOTION.  She looked like she was on the edge of tears and losing her composure the whole time and it was heartbreaking.  Her scene with Elphaba, Fiyero and the Wizard was wonderfully done, again an emotional punch to the heart, and Rachel acted off of that very well.  Gorgeous voice singing 'I'm Not That Girl (Reprise)'.  She also killed the witch fight scene.  SO good.  I love her lower range.  Rachel and Carrie's For Good was perhaps the best I have seen since Jennifer DiNoia and Hayley Podschun.  And I have no words for the Finale.  She was in tears, looked so confused, lost and hurt, and sang it absolutely beautifully.  Carrie St. Louis is heartbreakingly touching as Glinda, not one to miss.

Rachel Tucker
Rachel Tucker was incredible as Elphaba.  At Wednesday's matinee, she had a vocal issue in 'The Wizard and I' during the bridge.  Her voice cracked, carrying her way off the note, and she struggled to get back on track, having to speak until 'someday they'll be'.  After that she completely nailed it, even making up for it with her 'feeling things I've never felt' riff that she occasionally does.  What I liked about Rachel and Carrie together was they seem to be two actresses that break a lot of the stereotypical vocal molds.  While Carrie had many non-traditionally belty moments, Rachel allowed herself to be hushed and quiet when the role didn't require her to let loose and wail. What Is This Feeling was more dominated by Carrie, and Rachel didn't play up her comic moments as much (this also happened with Gina Beck in 2014, British actors/actresses seem to have a more downplayed sense of humor) but she did do a nice job with the lines at the beginning and the 'boo!' and cackle at the end.  She got very passionate in the Dillamond scene, immediately getting angry with Galinda over the name issue, and the following scene with just her and Dillamond was very soft and compassionate.  Her Dancing Through Life attitude was nice, a little softer than most Elphabas.  She still thought Fiyero was ridiculous but when Galinda gave her the hat, she smiled and looked up as though she thought things might be getting better, and then again at the end of the song she looked so wildly happy.  Rachel and Carrie made me realize how much I love the Glinda/Elphaba dance.  She did a beautiful I'm Not That Girl, following
Rachel Tucker
a very intimate and level-headed lion cub scene with Jonah, where they both got to flex their dramatic muscles a bit.  Her 'God has no powers' face and actions were marvelous, and her Defying Gravity was incredible.  She's loud and passionate and growls quite a lot.  The lift got stuck on Thursday night about 5 feet up and then kept rising.  Her act 2 was even stronger, I loved her Governer's mansion scene, and her scene with the Wizard, Fiyero and Glinda.  When Fiyero was trying to get her to leave with him, she kept reaching out to Carrie and shaking her head, with a very desperate look on her face.  She clearly wanted him but also cared a lot about Glinda's feelings and didn't want to hurt her.  The witch fight scene was exceptional, the audience on Wednesday was REALLY into it, and every time Fiyero came up, the audience would 'oooooh' and I could see Rachel feeding off of that energy.  No Good Deed was absolutely the best I have ever heard live maybe with the exception of Donna Vivino (who still takes the title of my favorite!).  She nailed that song, and I loved her final scene with Glinda, and the Finale killed me.  She and Carrie harmonize so well together.

Stage Door:

I didn't take many pictures for some reason, but here are my favorites of the ones I DID get!

1 comment:

Molly Cavanaugh said...

Hi Kyle,
I enjoyed reading your blog post. I too have gone to see Wicked on Broadway very recently. I thought that the show was amazing. I agreed that Nessarose might not have had the strongest voice, but I think that is good for "Wicked". Nessa is a good character, but if her voice was too much the show might run into problems because the show is about Galinda/Glinda and Elphaba. Their voices should be stronger due to the strength of their characters. When I saw "Wicked" I thought that Fiyero fell the most flat compared to his fellow actors and actresses. Perhaps I was just judging him too harshly based off the Norbert Leo Butz version. What was your opinion compared the the original Broadway cast recordings?