Wicked

Saturday, September 22, 2007
8:00pm evening
Gershwin Theatre
Broadway, New York, NY

Elphaba   Julia Murney   Glinda   Kendra Kassebaum
Fiyero   Michael Seelbach* (u/s)   Madame Morrible   Carole Shelley
The Wizard   Lenny Wolpe   Nessarose   Cristy Candler
Boq   Logan Lipton   Dillamond   Anthony Galde* (swing)
Chistery   Ryan Patrick Kelly* (swing)   Witch's Mother   Katie Webber
Witch's Father/Ozian Official   Michael DeVries        
             
Ensemble    
             
 

Seriously, Julia Murney is a freaking amazing woman. After I saw Julia in March, I fell in love with her acting. The level of detail she brings to her portrayal is undoubted unmatched by anyone else who has ever played Elphaba, and that I agreed with. It was just her voice that I wasn't used to.

But now? I don't care about her voice nearly as much, because, well ... she still sounds sick. I mean, the last notes of "The Wizard and I", "Defying Gravity", and "No Good Deed" were horribly phlegm-y (like, there was absolutely no doubt that she was sick) but when you've just been wowed by her acting, who the hell cares? And what I also like about her acting is that she doesn't try to make the comedy overly funny. It's all quite subtle, which is something Julie also does quite well. Plus, with her voice sounding the way it did, her low notes were GORGEOUSLY rich. Obviously in "I'm Not That Girl", but surprisingly so in "No Good Deed" and probably "Defying Gravity", too.

Kendra Kassebaum ... still annoys me as Glinda. She freakin' mooned the audience and I literally said out loud, "Oh, god!" as I dropped my head into my hands. I refrained from saying anything else out loud the rest of the show, but I wanted to smack myself every time she did something I found annoying. Luckily, 95% of that was in Act 1, because she was MUCH better in Act 2. Like in March, I did enjoy her "Thank Goodness". But it's not really ONE thing that makes her annoying -- it's everything put together.

Michael Seelbach was understudy Fiyero (I was so bummed about missing out on seeing Sebastian!), and despite all the things I've read about him in months past, I didn't think he was that bad. Apparently he's improved since I last heard about his performances. I didn't get a chance to see him when he was in L.A., so this was my first time seeing him. His speaking and singing voices are both very high, but not necessarily distractingly so. And he dances quite well, too -- perhaps his movements aren't as big as other Fiyeros I've seen, but at least they're sharp and precise.

Carole Shelley. OH MY GOD, I still can't believe I saw Carole Shelley. Most amazing Madame Morrible ever because of the little nuances that she did with the OBC and then added upon to give a little more depth. The sounds she makes with her throat and/or nose, though, are friggin' hilarious and are sounds that no one else can duplicate.

Cristy Candler as Nessarose. You know, I think I remember liking her quite a bit back in March, but I don't think she was being overly melodramatic in "Wicked Witch of the East" back then. She is now, and combine that overmelodrama with Logan Lipton's melodramatic self in that scene, and it was not so pretty. Cristy was fantastic pretty much everywhere else, though. Joyfully sweet and adorable during "Dancing Through Life" and appropriately pissed off and very ashamed of Elphaba's powers in the Shiz room assignments scene.

Logan ... is Logan. There are a few elements of his Boq that I like (namely that he doesn't try to make some of his funny moments too in-your-face), but I wish he didn't portray Boq like the most annoying geek in the world.

Lenny Wolpe is a very different Wizard from anyone else I've seen. I actually like his portrayal, but it would take some getting used to. He reminds me of a very soft and fuzzy grandfather figure, that isn't really manipulative and scheming as a character trait like most. Instead, you get the sense that he really does have good intentions ... it's just his methods don't necessarily work out that way.

We also got Anthony Galde as Dillamond understudy, and he plays Dillamond much older, perhaps a little more frail. Which makes you feel so bad for him during the classroom scene, and ESPECIALLY so in Act 2. He had some interesting gestures, too, which made it fun.

And one thing I had to mention about the L.A. cast versus the Broadway cast (and I'll see how the tour cast does this, too, on Tuesday) ... the L.A. cast in general (as in taking most leads and most ensemble together) has a somewhat more cartoonish, comedic approach to everything, and it comes across quite obviously. Actions are more in-your-face, there's more pause time for laughter, lines are more ironic when they can be. I don't know if it's necessarily a bad thing, but the Broadway cast is much more subtle with the comedy. I mean, there are still lines that were written purely for comic effect, and those you HAVE to deliver as such, but there are others that kind of just have the audience chuckling as it goes by, and it's less forceful. I don't know ... just a thought?

Okay, now on to the nitty-gritty details (mostly of why-I-love-Julia):

* One of my favorite things about Julia is how she associates the powers she has with her hands, and how she carries that specific connection throughout the entire show and makes numerous (but all very different) references to it throughout the show.

* I remember noting this in March, but during the room assignments scene when Julia unleashes her powers accidentally, she stares at her hands in shame and quickly tries to stuff them into her pockets to hide them or to make them stop.

* During "A Sentimental Man", after the levitation spell and she sees how much Chistery is suffering, Julia is appalled at what she's just done and feels downright horrified. She stares at her hands, shaking and mouthing, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!", and quickly tries to pull her sleeves over her hands and stuffs them underneath her armpits.

* During "Wicked Witch of the East" after Elphaba casts the spell on Boq to fix his shrinking heart and she sees what she's done, she kind of half-stumbles away from the wheelchair, utterly horrified at what she's done (because clearly it was not what she'd intended). And as she stumbles away, she stares down at her hands, confused and horrified as to what had just happened. Julia looks like she's about to burst into tears of regret.

* During the scene leading up to "Wonderful", as Lenny is trying to calm her down, she stands like she's threatening to attempt using her powers against him if he got any closer.

* And my favorite, when Julia is trying to beg Kendra to NOT tell the rest of Oz the truth about Elphaba's true nature, she practically screams, "Promise!" and has her hands out at Kendra's head in a begging gesture, but then she realizes that her fervent plea might cause her powers to do something to Kendra that she doesn't intend to. So, she quickly withdraws a bit, staring at her hands, a little fearful and even almost thankful nothing happened.

Act 1

* Kendra really likes to spin the wand in her hands as she's talking, doesn't she?

* I don't know which ensemble member it was (I only just recently mostly figured out the L.A. ensemble cast!), but one guy was sitting off to the side idly waving his hands as the Witch's Mother was in labor, like it was all going as expected and the baby would pop out in perfect fashion ... that is until the Midwife screams.

* I love the fact that Julia is SO ashamed at unleashing her powers during the room assignments scene that she practically hides her face in one of her hands, wanting to cry. This while Cristy has turned away from Julia as far she could in her wheelchair, pouting.

* Carole had a funny little accent: "Not to fret! We'll find someplace to put ya."

* At the beginning of "The Wizard and I", when Morrible is singing, Carole spent A LOT of time rubbing her hand over Julia's, as if her hands were precious and

* Julia is less sick than I think she was several days ago, but she sounded a little stuffed up still in "The Wizard and I", but the entire song except for the last verse was fantastic. You could tell she was strained and was fighting just to get to the end. Her voice got extremely scratchy/phlegm-y/rough then and she kept the higher grace notes to a minimum.

* Julia's expression just before she says "blonde" during "What is This Feeling" is priceless. Like she had a bitter taste in her mouth. And then during the instrumental intro there, she started twitching in her hands, and then fidgeting with the bottom of her tunic to distract herself.

* At the end of WITF, Julia and Kendra are in each other's faces and literally just spitting words at each other, rapid fire, faces contorted with hate for the other. That is until Julia startles the daylights out of Kendra with her "boo!"

* Anthony Galde struck a very poetic gesture when he said "waxing philosophic". He also didn't spend as much time actually stomping his foot (hoof?) to get the class' attention after Kendra's artichoke line.

* It's interesting that Kendra is now furiously taking notes during the history class, now, too. I don't remember specifically if she did that back in March, but I just remember it was kind of different that Megan was so inclined to take notes because at the time, it seemed like most Galindas just space out or spend time giggling with her friends.

* One thing that I actually really liked about Logan's Boq was when he had just chased down Kendra and was gushing to her, he kind of unconsciously and rather quickly stepped back up onto the higher ledge. It was completely not obvious, whereas Adam Wylie in L.A. completely stops everything that he's doing and VERY slowly steps back up on stage, before he continues talking. Again, not necessarily a bad approach, but it's just very obvious that it's being done for laughs.

* One thing that really bugs me about Logan's Boq, though, is his excessive use of his nervous laugh. It started grating on my ears after a while.

* As Logan is going over to Cristy to invite her to the Ozdust ball, Cristy is at first very alarmed and then shoots Kendra a look of utter surprise that she would do something like that for her. And then later when Cristy is gushing about how nice Galinda was, Julia practically spat "Galinda?!" in disgust.

* Another example of this cast having a somewhat more subtle approach: after the "lemons and melons and pears" line, Cristy's "oh my!" is quick and short. Whereas Jenna Leigh Green's is more drawn out, and she's even got a strange fearful (?) tone to her voice. I think she's going for amazed shock, but sometimes she sounds more scared of the "lemons and melons and pears" than anything else.

* During one of the ensemble dance sequences of Ozdust, there is a pair of ensemble members that I guess were supposed to be off-stage (though I couldn't tell because of how far off to the side I was), but the girl was watching the other dance and moving her arms like she was doing The Robot. She did that for several seconds before she and her dancing partner joined the rest of the ensemble (and then Carole came out to give Galinda the training wand).

* I LOVE that Carole goes to hand Kendra the training wand with one arm extended (holding up the pointy end), and using her other hand to hold up the handle -- so the entire wand was eye-level. Just as when she was with the OBC. Squee!

* And how come there's no rat to offer Morrible a glass of water? Surely that's not just an L.A. thing, is it?

* When Julia arrives at Ozdust with her black hat, and she realizes everyone is laughing at her and her hat, I love the look of downright betrayal and hurt on Julia's face as she stands on top of the staircase, glaring at Kendra, like she wants to say "how could you DO such a thing?". Then she storms downstage, still glaring at Kendra.

* I can't believe Kendra mooned the audience. I mean, I knew that was something she did during her tour days to get some cheap and easy laughs, but from what I've heard from people who have seen her since, I thought she stopped doing that. Apparently not. Right when she spazzes out about her and Fiyero "going to be married", she runs back and forth between her and Julia's bed, hops on top of Julia's bed, puts her head on the pillow and lifts her hips up in the air (so she's in an upside-down V) ... with her underwear showing. Again, I said out loud, "Oh, god!" So unnecessary.

* Honestly, after Kendra mooned the audience, I didn't watch her much in "Popular". Rather, I spent my time watching Julia.

* Oh man, Kendra got a lot of laughs for the "poof" thing she does. Grr.

* I love how Julia pretty much tries to scoot herself and inch away from Kendra when she says, "Oh, you really don't have to do that!"

* During "Popular", Kendra looked like she only tried to put lipstick on just the corner of Julia's mouth. That was cute.

* Julia is so cute as she is nervously laughing and says, "This is ... heh heh ... NEVER going to work ..."

* After Kendra does her awkward leaps across the stage, she finishes at the end with an awkward side scale (where she grabs her foot and tries to pull her leg straight up and to the side). The MOST hilarious thing about that is when Julia and Kendra are sitting on Kendra's bed, after Julia says "Oh, this is never going to work" and Kendra gets up and goes spastic, Julia actually grabs her own foot and awkwardly mocks Kendra in that side scale and makes a face like she's thinking 'Is she nuts? That hurts!' (Oh my god, I laughed so hard.)

* During the "ball gown" sequence, Kendra speaks "ball gown" (as I think she's always done). But after she says, "Is this thing on?" she looks at the tip of the wand and tries to blow on it, as if that would turn it on or something.

* Julia had this great moment of "I don't know what to do!" as she got up to run away, but she took a good long moment of hesitation after she jumped up off the bed, and then ran off.

* Julia's way of ending "I'm Not That Girl" by closing her eyes and turning her face skyward, so that she was letting herself get drenched by the rain. So heartbreaking. (Oh, and I started the applause for "I'm Not That Girl" because it totally sounded like the audience had no idea the song was over.)

* I'm not sure I understand why Carole was calling for Elphaba, sounding like she had no idea where she was. Was she wandering around the streets calling for Elphaba? Every other Morrible I've seen sounds like she knows exactly where Elphaba is and is just trying to get her attention. I'm sorry, I was cracking up about that a lot more than I probably should, but it was just a strange thought.

* Julia was practically jumping out of her shoes out of excitement when Carole (slowly) pulled the Wizard's invitation letter out of her pocket. Julia = so cute.

* Kendra likes to randomly kick her legs. When she says "outrage" as she's thinking about changing her name, she does this pseudo-karate kick.

* And as soon as Kendra announced her name being Galinda, Julia had the funniest expression on her face -- like she wanted to laugh but knew that she couldn't let Glinda see her reaction.

* When Elphaba and Glinda are first meeting the Wizard in person, Julia steps forward to shake his hand, and it's like she can barely speak because she can barely contain her joy.

* During the levitation spell sequence, I thought it was strange that Julia was reading from the left side of the left page all the way across to the right side of the right page. Maybe that's just how the Grimmerie is written? Just thought that was weird.

* And what I like about the way the levitation spell happened with this cast was that Elphaba's line, "No, he's in pain! How do I reverse it?" isn't drowned out like it sometimes is in L.A. -- either with Chistery's blood-curdling screams or the excitement from Morrible or the Wizard. Julia could be heard nice and clear.

* In "Defying Gravity", when Kendra tells Julia that she should just say that she's sorry, Julia's jaw kind of drops like she's appalled that Kendra would even suggest that.

* "Defying Gravity" was overall wonderful, and Julia sounded great up until (again) the last note, which was phlegm-y/scratchy. But everything more than made up for that.


Act 2

* Kendra's "Thank Goodness" was actually rather tolerable -- like last time I saw Kendra, her act 2 self is so drastically different, which is supposed to be the case anyway ... but yeah.

* I've mentioned the overly melodramatic "Wicked Witch of the East". But like Julie Reiber, Julia also is so happy for Nessa when Nessa can stand up on her own two feet that she extends her arms out expecting a hug ... except Nessa goes to call for Boq.

* And wow, Logan and Cristy are SO COLD with each other. Even more than Adam and Jenna in L.A. and I thought that was cold.

* When Elphaba sees that Boq is so happy about Nessa getting to stand on her feet, she turns away with such a sweet smile on her face, thinking they'll be together properly.

* And then when she's trying to make an escape to go to the Emerald City, and Nessa calls her on her true motivations, Julia doesn't look up. She doesn't want to hear what Nessa is saying. I love how Julia gestures up and down Cristy, starting with her feet, and practically spitting back at her, "And NOTHING ever will be!"

* It was so strange not to see Cristy all emotional after Julia storms off (like Jenna always is). Cristy shouts in a whisper, "Elphaba!" and when Boq finally stirs, and asks what's happened, she straightens up and says, "Uh, nothing!" (And this is the first time I've noticed a Nessa saying, "I still ..." before saying, "It was Elphaba, Boq!" I'm going to have to listen for that next time I see any Wicked.

* General note, but I love that Julia gets really angry and gets quieter.

* I've mentioned Elphaba's "what?" reaction to Fiyero saying that he's going with her. Julia's is freakin' hilarious because after Kendra says "What?", there's a rather long pause and then Julia says really loudly, "WHAT?!" Not so much like, "Did I hear you right?" but more "What are you thinking?!"

* It was ABSOLUTELY adorable the way Julia realized she felt "wicked" and threw her arms around Michael, because her arms flew out so far out to the side and then completely enveloped him.

* Then there's the timing for the cackle. Again, Julia waits a rather long time after getting slapped, because she's in just utter shock as she holds her hand to her face, jaw dropped, almost with her back turned to Kendra. Then she half-squats into a silent laugh first, and then builds up into her cackle. Same with the bubble line ... she waits a bit longer than most.

* And then when Kendra and Julia face off and Kendra does the crazy wand twirling, Julia stares at her like she's thinking "WTF?!"

* "No Good Deed" was by far Julia's best song of the night. I mean, yeah, I know it's her favorite, too. But damn, she gives Eden a run for her money on the fierceness level. (There might have been a slight technically issue with the lift, as there was a break between Kendra and Julia's "Fiyero!" (which usually overlaps). And like I mentioned, some of the higher notes were a bit of a strain and you could tell Julia was fighting to maintain the notes for their full length.

* I haven't mentioned much about the ensemble to this point, but honestly, either they weren't having a really sharp night or ... are they always a tad sloppy? Their singing was not entirely together, and not everything in their dancing was together either. This was most apparently in "No One Mourns the Wicked" and "March of the Witch Hunters".

* Technical cues are not always perfect either. For example, they faded Carole's mic about 1 1/2 seconds too early at the end of

* In the Kiamo Ko scene, Julia had the funniest and goofiest expression on her face as she said "Uncle What's-His-Name-Again", like she really had no clue of what his name was and was pulling out whatever came to mind.

* I love how Julia says, "You are the only friend I've ever had." She says it with definitely conviction.

* Kendra: "Captivitiy ... PRI-SON!" And then she does a rather funny impression of Carole..

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