Wicked

Saturday, April 21, 2007
2:00pm matinee
Pantages Theatre
Los Angeles, CA

Elphaba   *Julie Reiber* (standby)   Glinda   Megan Hilty
Fiyero   Kristoffer Cusick   Madame Morrible   Carol Kane
The Wizard   John Rubinstein   Nessarose   Jenna Leigh Green
Boq   Adam Wylie   Dillamond   Timothy Britten Parker
Chistery   Peter John Chursin   Witch's Mother   *Kristen Oei* (swing)
Witch's Father/Ozian Official   Matthew Stocke   Midwife   Linda Kerns
             
Ensemble   Angela Ara Brown, Dioni Michelle Collins, Courtney Corey, Michael Drolet, Melissa Fahn, Amanda Flynn, D.J. Gregory, Zach Hensler, Lindsay Janisse, Adam Lambert, Alexander Selma, Terrance Spencer, Eric Stretch, Brooke Wendle
             

Sat dead center in front row, right behind the conductor -- and right in front of the keyboards (or their speakers).

Before I begin, I have to say Julie Reiber is one of the most gorgeous Elphabas I've seen (and I mean that in an admiring way, mind you). She's pretty without the make-up but I think she's even prettier green. She also has this way of staring with rather a haunting intensity, which largely has to do with her eyes.

(There was also a fairly significant malfunction with the sets during most of Act 2. Nothing serious enough to require the show to stop, and the actors had contingency plans to deal with them so that it still all went very smoothly. You probably wouldn't have noticed anything was wrong unless you'd seen the show several times and know where people and sets are supposed to be. But apparently, according to Adam Wylie, someone forgot to place a very important pin/stake into a cable or something used to move the sets around. Oops.)

In general, there were some scenes that I really liked in terms of Julie's acting -- a lot of new spins on blocking and the characterization of Elphaba. Julie is very youthful. She also has a very comforting demeanor about her interaction with other actors -- especially with Nessa, Dillamond, Fiyero, and Glinda (at the right times, of course). It's interesting, considering Elphaba's probably had very little love and comfort from others.

I can tell Julie hasn't gone on much so far (and this was most likely her second performance ever as Elphaba) -- most of her scenes were great, but there were a few where her timing wasn't quite right with the rest of the cast. She had a few line flubs (mentioned below). But I can tell she is going to be outrageously spectacular when she settles into the role a little more and things flow more smoothly.

The audience also had a really great energy. Very appreciative.

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Focusing mostly on Julie:

No One Mourns the Wicked

I admit, I found myself watching Kris a lot, because I'd finally spotted him! (It wasn't easy with his hat and very baggy costume.)

Dear Old Shiz

Julie was hopeful (perhaps naively so) during DOS itself, and then gradually grew to be frustrated and exasperated as the students kept reacting the same way to her. Julie's interaction with Jenna was very caring, showing their close sisterly bond (several times running a hand over Jenna's hair). I really liked how she was ashamed and even spiteful at herself for letting her powers become unleashed. Julie really played up the awkwardness she was feeling -- how she knew she didn't fit in with everyone else.

The Wizard and I

Julie sang this with a great pizzazz, with a renewed sense of hope and potential. The first couple verses felt a little uncertain, but once she got into the swing of things, she sounded wonderful -- a fairly strong voice, with a few nice little riffs and putting a good deal of energy into some of the longer held notes. I especially like the way she sang "fixated on your verdigris" in a mocking tone as she looked at her hands.

What is This Feeling

It was very cute the way Julie said "blonde" in a very matter-of-fact manner, and it was great in the first few lines of the song how she really sounded like this sensation of loathing was brand new to her and she was trying really hard to figure out what it was. I cracked up so hard when Julie mocked Megan's leg bend thing (at "every little trait however small"), which she did a couple times and then turned the last one into a back kick. Then when Megan turned her compact mirror toward Julie, she put her hand up to block her reflection. In general, Julie was very indignant and she rolled her eyes at Megan a lot (or at what Megan was saying).

Something Bad

During the classroom scene, when Dillamond first gets Galinda's name wrong, Megan let out this really long sigh before saying, "I don't see what the problem is ..."

Generally, Julie's interaction with Timothy was very refreshing. A tiny little detail, but it was nice to see the fact that Julie didn't stop walking toward the wings until Timothy told her not to worry about fetching him water. (It seems like Eden comes to a sudden stop before Timothy says anything.) She also had a very distraught look about her when she sang, "It couldn't happen here in Oz ..."

Dancing Through Life

Megan was kind of Kristin-like with the way she shook her hair out when she approached Kris and said, "Were you looking for something or ... someone?"

Kris had quite a bit of peppiness in his voice today. Dancing was wonderful as always. Megan was not as forceful with pointing the black hat as she's done with Eden (she pointed it, but didn't nudge it toward Julie). Also, I'm not sure if it's just me, but Jenna's "Oh, myyyy!" was a lot more surprised and drawn out than I've heard before. I also really liked the way Jenna reacted as Adam was fumbling for words, gesturing at Megan, but not wanting to say that he asked her to the ball for Galinda. Jenna was starting to get angry, a very hard expression setting on her face until Adam said, "Because you are so beautiful!"

It was a little odd, but as Megan was approaching Julie while she was doing her awkward dance, Julie was already looking at her when she tapped her on the shoulder. I also have to note that Julie's nylon top that makes her arms appear green was much brighter than it should have been -- the color didn't at all match the make-up on her hands and face.

Sharing secrets

Not as much emotion (regret, self-hate, or even anger) as I would have liked. And then Julie cut off Megan's line (after she says that it's her fault): "What?" (And then Megan didn't get to say, "What is?" before Julie said, "That my sister is the way she is.")

Popular

Julie was so cute the way she acted as if she couldn't see without her glasses when Megan snatched them off her face. Megan was also a little more emphatic with the way she tossed her hair at "I'm determined to succeed", with her back facing the audience, head arched back, arms out to the side (not sure if I like it, but it's certainly silly). Megan also had a new bit during toss-toss scene -- she said "brace yourself" before each toss-toss attempt, and in general the scene went on for a bit longer, having Julie stand after the second one. "Brace yourself, brace yourself." "And shake, and shake, and shake!"

And rather than convulsions that Eden and Megan do, Julie stuck with shaking her hair to just one side of her head -- which is just as funny.

The lion cub

Kris also looked really funny when he mocked the way Julie was shaking her hair to one side. He kind of looked like a dog looking for its tail to chase. Ha ha ...

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I really do like the reaction from the other students when Dillamond says he's no longer allowed to teach, and when he gets carried off. A few of them (this time I noticed Alexander Selma and Kristin Oei) jump up and murmur, "What?!" or "How can this be?" etc.

Later, after Elphaba and Fiyero have run off with the cub -- I really loved the rant that Julie unleashed on Kris, and in general, she and Kris played off each other really well. But then when Elphaba notices that Fiyero is bleeding, Julie reached up toward Kris' face much earlier that she probably should have -- even before he started to say, "Or maybe it scratched me or something". Kris worked with it, though, because just started to lean slowly away as he said that, until he finally scrambled to his feet.

Iím Not That Girl

Julie sang this with an extremely sad tone, a lot of the grief and self-pity coming through in her inflections, and it was really heartbreaking (especially at "I wasn't born for the rose and pearl" and really, the rest of the final verse). It was really gorgeous and she added a few nice little ornamentations. Although, I do have to point out that Julie's range is not nearly low enough to hit the lowest notes (and even a few that weren't even that low like "whirl", "joy" and "curl"), and they were breathy and barely audible, if at all.

I really appreciated how she was somewhat more aware of the rain than Eden typically is. Not quite as much as say Julia Murney, but she did shake the umbrella as she closed it. She was rather adorable as she held the Wizard's invitation in her hand, grinning with a renewed sense of hope.

Train Station

I'm not sure how much I like the long pause Megan takes after she says "moodified" -- as if she's waiting for the audience to laugh before continuing. But it was funny the way she was completely distraught about not knowing him anymore, and then all of a sudden becoming all giddy when she spotted him on the stairs. I love the way Julie used the flowers Kris handed her to point to Megan when she said, "Yes, I heard!" and then Kris did kind of a double-take looking at Megan, a little confused. Then when Megan was trying to interject herself into the conversation about "thinking about that day a lot", she had an extremely panicked tone to her voice, which I don't think I've ever heard to that degree before.

And then later, when G(a)linda announces her new name, Megan swung out her arms in a huge sweeping gesture and held it for a REALLY long time, which got great reaction from the audience. Julie then poked Kris in the ribs and muttered, "Well, say something!" I'm still loving how much more flustered Kris is as he fumbles for words to say to Julie, and then making the hastiest of retreats when he fails and barely manages a "good luck".

One Short Day

Something must have happened during Megan and/or Julie's ridiculously fast costume change at the beginning of OSD, because neither of them were on stage when they began singing. It wasn't until they got to "there are wonders like I've never seen" that they came on.

A Sentimental Man

Julie and Megan's gasp and "oooohh!" when the Wizard says he knows why they've come was funny -- just in their tone of voice.

Levitation spell

Wow, Peter John Chursin's screams when Chistery's wings emerge are downright bloodcurdling. Julie sounded much more accusatory when she realized that the Wizard did not have any real powers (as opposed to Eden who is more saddened by the realization).

Defying Gravity

While I kind of wanted Julie to have a little more panic or desperation or something when she and Megan ran up to the attic, Julie had amazing intensity in the second half of the song. Still, the scene was fantastic. No major riffs (just a few ornamentations), but Julie was again able to show just how powerful her voice is. (Julie did have a little trouble unhooking the broom from the line that made it "levitate" on-stage from the wings.

Thank Goodness

Malfunctions! Mostly with sets. The platform that Kris, Megan, and Carol stand on did not come forward beyond the bridge, and it was kind of under the bridge's shadow. I wasn't sure what was wrong in the beginning, but I knew it didn't look quite right. But they went on with the scene anyway, and in the second half of the scene, Megan had to make do with standing on the floor center stage (as opposed to going back to the platform). She made it work well, though.

Luckily, the set retreated upstage like it was supposed to, but then ...

Wicked Witch of the East

Jenna and Adam came on stage on time, but the table and wardrobe were just starting to drift to their places when they began their lines. (The set pieces made kind of a loud noise as they locked into place.) Of course, that meant Julie couldn't be inside the wardrobe and she waited behind it. The light inside the wardrobe come on as it was supposed to, only to reveal that it was empty except for some clothes. Julie then poked her head from around the back and came into view walking around it. Jenna's reaction was perfect, still -- and you wouldn't have known something was wrong unless you really know the show. (Props to both Jenna and Julie for pulling off that part of the scene!)

Wonderful

John Rubinstein also must have been thrown off by what must have been chaos going on backstage, because he said "boring" instead of "lonely" ("it gets kind of boring for me around here"), but he covered up well by placing extra emphasis on "I know YOU ... must get LONELY, too". He made it work. And then after Elphaba discovers Dillamond, Julie started "Do you want to know my heart's desire" a couple seconds too early, before the orchestra had gotten to the point where the guards are called in.

I know some Elphabas echo Glinda's "What?" after Fiyero announces that he's going with Elphaba in a way that is funny. Julia Murney's is funny because hers is a split second after Kendra's. Eden's usually isn't because of the intonation of her voice. But Julie's was funny because of the very low-pitched tone her voice takes. It was cute.

And then Julie (accidentally?) cut off Megan before Megan could say "behind my back" -- which made Kris' comment slightly less funny.

Iím Not That Girl (reprise)

Sad, as always. Especially up close.

As Long As Youíre Mine

Many great little riffs from Julie, and even though Kris' chemistry with her wasn't quite the same as with Eden (he actually seemed to hold back a little), Julie and Kris worked really well together in this song. And as I mentioned above, about Julie being much more physical in her interaction with people, she was caressing Kris' arms much, much more than Eden usually does. Kris didn't riff much this time, and he didn't take the note as high on "up that I fell".

Witch fight

I would have liked to see more emotion from Julie at mourning over Nessa, especially given how close their portrayed their sisterly bond. The interaction with Megan, though, was great. (Although, another nitpicky little point I might not have mentioned before -- Megan's pause after saying, "It's dreadful. It is, to have a house fall on you, but ..." where she seems to be waiting for the audience to laugh before continuing. The pause seems to have gotten longer. It's funny, but not THAT funny.

Julie took a very different tone when she said the "bubble" line -- it was less accusatory (is that a word?) and more matter-of-fact. (I personally prefer the former, as I find it funnier even though it still got a great reaction from the audience ... but just had to point that out.)

I especially loved Julie's reaction to being slapped -- complete and utter shock until she slowly melted (forgive the pun) into the cackle (which was really less of a cackle than a good long chuckle). And both she and Megan had great timing when they jumped up and faced off.

No Good Deed

Despite the sets appearing to work just fine, the trap doors apparently weren't working quite right. Julie's entrance through the trap door downstage was a few seconds late (she was almost finished with "Fiyerooooo" when she finally came up). Julie was on fire -- completely flawless vocally, though just a little apprehensive at times. She had some really nice riffs ("FiyeroooOOOoo", a couple toward the end). I loved her intensity and dynamics throughout the scene.

I did find it distracting though when Julie was walking backwards upstage at "maybe that's the reason why", and looking down at the floor for what I imagine was her mark (so that she could be right on top of the vents to make her cape ruffle).

March of the Witch Hunters

Good, though I thought the ensemble felt a little tired, sluggish. Probably the chaos from the malfunctions was taking its toll.

Kiamo Ko

I'm kind of glad Megan didn't let out her usual loud gasp when she stops at the top of the stairs. Julie's reaction to reading the note about Fiyero was much more distraught than most other Elphabas.

For Good

Pretty, though Megan was much less emotional than she usually is. Julie took a much higher melody for "like a seed dropped by a bird" the second time, which was just gorgeous. Her voice blends really beautifully with Megan's, and combine that with how much more physically interactive she is with Megan, it made the scene just that much more sad.

Finale

Again, problems with the trap door that Elphabas are supposed descend through upon melting forced Julie to just crumple into a heap on the floor. You could still see her shadow as the lights dimmed.

The audience loved Morrible being carried away and with Elphaba re-appearing from the trap door. And I really loved the comical tone in which Kris said "you did the best you could" and "you don't have to lie to me" -- a little different from usual. Again, Megan was not quite as emotional as she typically is. But still, a great finish for all.