Saturday, May 5, 2007
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||Gina Starbuck|
|Witch's Father/Ozian Official||Matthew Stocke||Midwife||Linda Kerns|
|Ensemble||Angela Ara Brown,
Julie rocked the house in this performance. I mean, she was
amazing in the matinee, but as she told me at the stage door afterward, the
matinee was kind of like a warm-up. She felt more in the groove of things in
the evening show. While she was vocally a tiny bit shaky now and then in the
matinee, she was downright solid and fierce when she needed to be in the
evening. She riffed a little here and there, but she didn't overdo it --
just enough to add a little embellishment, but nothing that you'd consider
changing of the melody.
I loved her energy in "The Wizard and I" and she was wonderfully exuberant. I could tell then that this was going to be a different show for Julie. The last verse of the song was amazing, and she put a nice little emphasis on "melt!"
"What is This Feeling" was cute. Julie's mocking tone when she said "your voice" got a great reaction, and I love the way she makes fun of Megan when they're singing, "Every little trait however small" -- she awkwardly kicks her leg up and down behind her, and then pretends to do a back kick at Megan. And then Megan did the thing where she tries to fend Julie off with her compact mirror, and Julie stuck her hand out to block her reflection -- which they did before -- but this time Megan moved her compact around, trying to get at Julie from different angles. Very funny.
I actually think Julie's "I'm Not That Girl" was slightly better in the matinee, as she actually had a pitch on most of those low notes, even the last low E. She seemed to struggle with the last note a bit in the evening show, as it was again barely audible. Still, she delivers a heart-wrenching rendition of the song, especially when she sings, "I wasn't born for the rose and pearl" -- into which she put so much pain and self-pity that it alone could have brought me to tears.
"Defying Gravity" was spectacular -- very strong and without a doubt defiant. I like how she plays with the dynamics of the song -- holding back just a little when the music doesn't call for power, and really giving it her all when she flies.
But, really, "No Good Deed" was where she brought the house down. With even more intensity and a greater sense of desperation, she powered through with everything she had. It was amazing. (I do have to mention that it still appears that she's looking down on the floor for her mark at "maybe that's the reason why" and she's walking backwards upstage -- like she isn't sure where the wind vents are on the floor exactly.) But I really loved the way she crouched down really low right along with her "Fiyero!" riff (which, again, wasn't too much) and really did seem like she had received a mighty blow as she sang, "One question haunts, it hurts ..." And the final note? She left me breathless.
(Which brings me to something I've been
thinking about -- maybe it's just the fact that all of this is still relatively
new to Julie and she hasn't had to do it 3,000 times, but I like her acting a
little more than Eden's -- who is great, but sometimes feels
over-rehearsed/stale. Julie's acting is a little more natural and it integrates
well with what she's singing.)
As for everyone else and the rest of the show, the entire cast seemed to have upped their energy from the matinee. Megan had toned down some of her hyperactivity in the matinee, and while she wasn't 100% back to her crazy self, her acting seemed to have a lot more intent and I loved some of the facial expressions she doesn't usually use.
Megan's ball gown sequence
was different from the matinee and the last time I saw the show. She sang the
first "ball gown" (like she usually does, and unlike the matinee where she spoke
it), but instead of taking her feet wide, crouching down, and then screaming the
second one at the top of her lungs, she sang it just like the first one. But
then, when nothing happened, she added an extra hum and waved the wand a little
bit more at Julie before looking at the wand to say, "Is this thing on?"
Kristoffer, too, was also a bit more exuberant and while I've always liked his acting, there was a little more depth to his Fiyero this time around (and he also admitted to me at the stage door afterward that the evening show felt very different). I really loved his interaction with Julie in "As Long as You're Mine" -- much more romantic and intimate than in the matinee. He also did his lovely riff on the very last note, but it was harder to hear unless you were listening for it.
John Rubinstein was also quite a bit more animated than I'm using to seeing him. Particularly his gestures and dancing movements in "Wonderful" -- they made him seem a little more fanciful and light-hearted.
There were a few very minor issues with the timing of the sets in NOMtW -- the Witch's Mother's Lover didn't descend down the lift for a good 5 or so seconds, and Megan's bubble was also delayed about 5 seconds. That led Megan to do her little finger waving thing, but when the bubble didn't move, her waving got bigger and bigger until she was using her entire arm before the bubble started descending. Luckily the timing was fixed, and that was it for delays.
There were also minor issues with the wigs. I don't know if it was the humidity in the air (or lack thereof) or what, but Julie and Megan both were pulling loose strands of hair away from their faces very frequently. During "Popular", Megan got the pink flower caught in her hair for a few moments before she pulled it free, and she muttered, "Oops ... oopsies." Very cute. And I'm not sure if there was an issue with the quick change in "One Short Day", but Julie and Megan took a couple seconds longer to get back on stage (not quite as long as 4/21, but enough for me to notice).
Other random observations:
In "Dancing Through Life", Megan was a little behind in tempo and had to rush to catch up with the orchestra at "Now that we've met one another ..."
Also during DTL, when Galinda is about to give Elphaba the black hat, Megan's microphone wire was sticking out a lot more than it should have, and Megan somewhat subtly (not subtle enough for me to not notice) pulled some of her hair across her shoulder to hide the wire. And rather than dancing herself off-stage after giving Julie the hat, she just ran.
During "Popular", after Megan did her extreme arch-back thing where she practically touches the floor with her hands (!), she came back up and had to adjust her dress because it apparently had slipped a little farther than she would have liked.
Unlike the last time I saw Julie and unlike the matinee, Julie actually waited longer this time to reach for Kris' face after noticing that he was bleeding. It coincided with the first note of the intro to "I'm Not That Girl".
During the train station scene, Megan had a bit of trouble getting her purse open, so she never pulled out her handkerchief.
Another great acting detail by Julie: right after Elphaba casts the spell to help Nessa walk, Julie looked as if she was totally expecting Jenna to give her a hug of gratitude, but of course Jenna instead stumbles over to the table to ring for Boq. Nice touch there.
For some reason, John decided to holler the line, "So I'll grant their heart's desire!" Didn't quite make sense to me.
Kris did his Tarzan yell again when he swung in during the witch fight scene.
The ensemble was crisp and had lots of energy. "March of the Witch Hunters" was almost kind of scary with how precise everyone was and you could really sense the mob mentality they were aiming for.
And to go along with my observation in the matinee, the piece of paper that Julie got before "For Good" was a fresh piece of paper, not previously folded. Why I notice things like that, I don't know.