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,
I had tickets for this show even before I learned that Julie Reiber was scheduled to perform. And when I did learn of that, I was so excited! (And then my friend and I decided to lotto, and we won, so we got FRONT ROW seats to see Julie!) This performance was her fourth time performing the full show (I saw her second on 4/21, she took over when Eden left the show early on 5/3 because she was sick, performed on 5/4, and both shows for 5/5).
Overall, what an amazing performance. Such an improvement from the 4/21 matinee, and even that wasn't too bad either. She (and the rest of the cast) also didn't have to deal with any malfunctions this time, which I'm sure made life a lot easier. Julie was much more confident in her lines, did quite a bit more acting in her songs, and even embellished with a few riffs of her own -- but not overdoing it at all. Very smooth integration with the rest of the cast, and the chemistry was generally very good.
According to the box office staff, when I asked about cancellation line, they said that there wasn't going to be one for the matinee because there were some important VIPs coming (I'm not entirely sure what that has to do with cancellation line, but there you go). So, I figured that, depending on who the VIPs were, the cast was going to a) ramp up the energy of the performance and/or b) go very much by the book (the latter is apparently what happened when the new Japanese cast came to observe).
So, while Julie actually riffed a little bit now and then, Megan toned down her hyperactivity A LOT. Especially in "Popular" where did some of her less spastic funny antics, but the "ball gown" sequence was nothing like what she usually does. Instead of singing the first "ball gown", she spoke it. She did do her deep pliť in preparation for the second attempt, but she again spoke it (instead of screaming it).
Megan did, however, ad-lib a tiny bit during the "toss-toss" sequence -- after Julie spazzed out with the toss-toss-no-hands thing, Megan actually looked like she was trying extremely hard not to crack up, and then she said, "Well, you'll practice ... some other time."
Megan also went for the ridiculously high note at the end of "No One Mourns the Wicked".
Back to Julie ... like I was saying, a much stronger performance, especially in the first couple verses of "The Wizard and I". There were a couple instances during the show where her voice sounded a tad scratchy, but it was only for a brief moment each time, and she didn't let it throw her at all. There were also a couple of times where she wasn't quite in sync with the rest of the cast (nothing you'd really notice unless you were looking for it).
"No Good Deed" was where she shined the most. Fierce, very solid performance. She's still looking down at her feet for her mark, which is a tad distracting and takes a little away from emotion she's created, but it's still relatively new to her so I can look past it. Otherwise, great "Fiyero" riff and a little embellishment on the last note that was just lovely. She knocked this song out of the park.
I loved the emotion Julie and Megan had in "For Good" -- neither of them were overly emotional or anything, but they were both effectively conveying the gravity of the fact that they were probably never going to see one another again.
Kris and Julie worked really well together in "As Long as You're Mine", but not nearly as much as they did in the evening show where they were hot! Kris did his really awesome riff on the last note, which was very easily heard in this performance.
Other random observations:
The overall tempo of the show was significantly slower, especially in the songs. Not sure if it's the conductor's choice, or if it's because of the VIPs.
Julie and Megan's chemistry was very different in "What is This Feeling?" Julie mocked Megan's voice, and did her leg kick thing, but when Julie ran downstage to hip-bump Megan, Megan gave her a dirty look and that was it. She didn't pretend to wipe off her dress like she usually does. Also, when Julie tried to scare Megan at the end ("Boo!"), rather than Megan reeling and being startled, Megan just turned away and looked very disgusted. Kind of weird.
I've taken to watching some of the ensemble during the history class scene, and this time I noticed the great expression on Amanda Flynn's face when Dillamond asks about defining "scapegoat". Amanda looked really confused, silently mouthed "scapegoat" to herself, and then frantically looked in her book. She's fun to watch.
For some reason, Timothy still had the wad of paper in his mouth after taking a bite, and had to manipulate it a bit to speak.
Maybe it's just that I haven't noticed it before, but I really like the way Timothy reacts to the way Morrible tries to manipulate Elphaba into "behaving" the way she's expected to if she wants to meet the Wizard ("magic is a demanderating mistress ...). He looks over at Carol with a concerned expression on his face, which turns into one of slight disgust at what she's saying to Julie.
I liked Julie's part in the sharing secrets scene -- she was a little more emotional this time. Still not a lot, and you can't really hear it in her voice, but it was all in her facial expressions.
Julie's "I'm Not That Girl" was gorgeous, and she actually was able to have an audible pitch on those low notes ("whirl", "joy", etc.) as opposed to those notes disappearing the last time I saw her. She also hit that low E at the end, too. And she had a lovely little embellishment to the melody just before the final verse.
Something new I haven't seen John do: when Elphaba and Glinda meet the Wizard for the first time and Elphaba shakes the Wizard's hand, John glanced down at her hand, turning it over to examine her hand to see that she truly was green.
Something I noticed regarding the timing in the scene following "As Long as You're Mine" -- usually when Eden (and the last time I saw Julie) start to hear the wind/low rumble, Kris turns to listen as well and makes a shushing noise before saying, "No, it's just the wind." But this time, Kris continued to gaze at Julie, as if he wasn't really even paying attention to the fact that she was now distracted. It's a little strange, but at the same time, I like how Kris is making Fiyero so madly in love with Elphaba that he can't focus on anything else. (He did this in the evening performance, too.)
A very random observation, but I noticed the piece of paper that Julie got that supposedly told of Fiyero's fate (right before "For Good") was used. It was an old prop that had been folded before. Usually I notice that Eden has to fold the paper before slipping it into her sleeve.