Wicked

Saturday, May 5, 2007
8:00pm evening
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   Gina Starbuck
Witch's Father/Ozian Official   Matthew Stocke   Midwife   Linda Kerns
             
Ensemble   Angela Ara Brown, Dioni Michelle Collins, Natalie Daradich (swing), 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
             

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.)

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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: