Monday, December 16, 2013

Wicked: A Lateified Review

As I may or may not have mentioned before (I can't remember), I had the great privilege of getting to see Wicked live with my aunt a bit ago.  Every since then, I've been planning to review it, but now I'm finally getting around to it.
First of all, I'm going to assume that everyone knows the story; if you don't, here's the Wikipedia synopsis.
Now, on to the review.  I shall try to do it in an orderly fashion, but I'm going to be recording my own experience as well, so it may end up being very ramble-y and not orderly at all.  Hopefully it will make sense anyway. :P
When we sat down in our seats (which were good!), I was almost shaking with excitement and suspense, because this was my first time seeing a musical live.  I mean, obviously I'd seen little kid plays and all, but this was the first time I'd ever seen something this...big.
And it was big.  When the music started, I was blown away by the size of it; the costumes, the theatre itself, the singing, the acting...everything.  But I quickly got used to it. ;)
Anyways...back to the actual review.  Let me say before I get too into it that I'd listened to pretty much all the first act, but none of the second act, and that I didn't know much about the plot.  So these were pretty much my first impressions.
"No One Mourns the Wicked" was amazing. (I'm going to try to avoid reusing adjectives, but it may
be impossible.  You know how it is. ;P)  At first, I was a little startled by it, because it was loud and big and I was used to CD tracks and all, but I got used to it (and grew to love it by the end), and all the rest of it was perfect.  I loved the dancing, and the mother of Elphaba in this one was really good, adding her own personal touches in, what, ten seconds of "stage time".  Glinda's bubble and dress to match were beautiful (most of her costumes were), and the floating, although it was obvious that it wasn't "real", was still pretty breathtaking.
About G(a)linda (Jenn Gambatese).  Her voice was something else.  I can't really describe it.  It was almost drawly, if you know what I mean, without being twangy or nasally, while still sounding really strong and yet superficial occasionally...yeah.  
Then came "Dear Old Shiz".  Having only listened to the a small part of the soundtrack beforehand, I wasn't really expecting anything from DOS and wasn't sure what would happen once the students stopped singing about "Shizzzzzzz".  The plot was quickly cleared up for me.  Which brings me to Elphaba herself...
"My" Elphaba, Alison Luff, was great!  Her voice was really strong.  She was more of an angry Elphaba than some, but she never went overboard and I thought that her portrayal suited her well.
"The Wizard and I"...Alison Luff did a great job.  It was the first time I'd heard the song, so I can't really compare it to anything else, but she didn't miss a note and she had all the right expressions, so I'm happy.
"Something Bad" was...um...boring.  Yes, I know that it's an important plot point, but I usually skip it when I'm listening to the soundtrack.  However, the actors did a good job, and Doctor Dillamond was kind of funny, so I was satisfied.
"Dancing Through Life" was one of those blew-me-away songs.  All I knew about it was that Aaron Tveit did a great job singing it (and wore red!), but...yeah.  Anyways.  The little dancing scene with Galinda and Elphaba was so sweet, and Nessa and Boq together just made my heart ache, 'cause I knew how that turned out. *sniffle*  The Fiyero (Curt Hansen) was good, though I've never really liked his part in DTL.
And now we get to "Popular"!  This is probably the song I've heard the most of; I first heard it at Of Trims and Frills and Furbelows and fell in love with it, and listened to different bootlegs, &c.  So I was really eager to hear Jenn Gambatese sing it, and she didn't disappoint.  She was HILARIOUS and my aunt and I now have an ongoing "toss-toss" competition. :D
"I'm Not That Girl" was absolutely beautiful.  I hadn't heard this song before, either, and it just...it almost made me cry.  Alison Luff did a lovely job.
"One Short Day" was pretty cool.  This is the one Glinda dress I don't really like, but the rest of it was amazing, especially the other costumes.  All the bright, whirling colors and dancing made it a really fun song.

"A Sentimental Man"...well, it's pretty short, but Elphaba did a great job with her transition from Wizard-adorer to Wizard-abhorrer. :P  Oh, and the guy who played the Wizard was John Davidson!  I don't know how many people will recognize the name, but my aunt and mom were both huge fans of his when younger, and the day after I saw Wicked, I got to see Davidson in The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, which was pretty thrilling.
Annnnnd then came "Defying Gravity".  Everyone did a great job, but seriously, it BLEW ME AWAY.  Wicked is a very good show all by itself, but I think that song is what differentiates it from anything else and allowed it to break a bunch of box office records (it's alliteration!) and leap in popularity to surpass Phantom in the space of ten years.  It's just...an amazing song.  I knew she rose up on her broom and all, but seeing it live was so cool.  I really can't describe it.
Oh, and here's a video of "my" cast singing "Defying Gravity".

Then came the intermission, blah, blah, blah, and then the second act.  I didn't know anything about the second act at all, so George was curious as to What Would Happen.
"Thank Goodness" happened.  I love Glinda's Thank Goodness costume, by the way, and this song makes me feel so sorry for her.  She really doesn't know what to do, or what to think, so she kind of "defaults" to her normal routine: being popular.  That's my theory, anyway...she just seems so lost in this scene.
Anyways.  Jenn Gambatese, as usual, did a great job.  So did everyone else.  The end.
"The Wicked Witch of the East" was so sad. I pretty much guessed what would happen, but still...poor Nessa.  And poor Elphie.  I do wish they'd included this song on the soundtrack, though.
"Wonderful" was...wonderful. :P  John Davidson did an AMAZING (and hilarious) job as the Wizard, and Alison Luff had me at the edge of my seat all through this song.
"I'm Not That Girl (reprise)" was heartbreaking.  Again, I had the sense that Glinda just didn't know what to do, and was sincerely regretting her choices, but wasn't sure how to make things better.
"As Long As You're Mine".  Well, Elphie and Fiyero were adorable together, but the song itself is kinda suggestive and icky, so...not much to say here.

"No Good Deed" was so powerful.  This was quite possibly Alison Luff's best song.  Poor Elphaba...she's been through so much and she's finally found love, and now it and her sister have been ripped away from her through her best friend.    Again, this was the first time I heard it, but I "got" it, and it, as usual, completely wowed me.
"March of the Witch-Hunters" was good, and scary, and Boq (Jesse JP Johnson) did a great job with this song.
"For Good".  *tears*  This song...THIS SONG.  I was crying almost hysterically by the end of it, but I love it so much.  It so perfectly expresses everything about friendship, and Alison Luff and Jenn Gambatese were so good in their parts as they finally realize just how much their friendship means to them.

Then came the "Finale", which did nothing to abate my tears.  Glinda was the one I really felt for.  Don't get me wrong; I love Elphie and I admire her, and I think she was incredibly brave and deserves the happy ending of sorts she got, but I pitied Glinda.  She's just danced through life, and now, when she finally really cares about something, it's taken from her--and it's through her own choices, because she was young and spoiled.  Her best friend was just killed--or so Glinda thinks--by the people she allied with and helped.  The man she loves threatened her life so that he could save Elphaba, and then was taken away and tortured and--so Glinda thinks--killed.  And it's partly because of her.  Plus, she can't even grieve--she has to take care of Oz and present a happy front.  I can't imagine the pain she'd have to endure--but she does, and she leads Oz well, and she isn't bitter, but recognizes the good Elphie's done her.  Which is pretty amazing.

The show ended, and I was still crying (the little hug Elphie and Glinda had before bowing didn't help either), but then the lights went on and people started to leave, and I controlled myself. :P
But it wasn't over yet...we went around and waited by the stage door.  We had to wait at least half an hour in the cold, but I got the signatures of Fiyero, Elphie and Boq, and got a picture with the latter two.  Yessssss! ;)
Overall...this is an amazing show.  It has an "Oz" feel about it, and the music is reminiscent of the original, but it still has a flavor all its own.  I was a bit worried about how they'd portray Elphaba, because too often it's simply a blurring of the lines between good and evil, but they clearly showed what was right and what was wrong and I really appreciated that.  There was very little content, no swearing, meaningful songs, lovely costumes...I really can't think of anything I'd want to change besides "As Long As You're Mine".

In the end, what I said to my aunt as we were walking back to our car sums it up best:
"I think I love this show."



1 comment:

Xochitl said...

Sounds really cool! I don't usually like all the 'misunderstood villain' retellings of stories, but this one looks different since it doesn't exactly demonize the characters who were good in the original.
I've only ever seen The Barber of Seville live, and yeah, it really was amazing seeing all the... bigness of the show.