Thursday, October 31, 2013

WICKED Week: Spotlight on the G(a)lindas

Kristin Chenoweth
The most successful musical of this generation, Wicked, celebrated a great milestone on Wednesday. As of October 30, they have been on Broadway for 10 years. (Scroll down to the bottom for a synopsis and main character list) Check out tributes from every day this week, including documentaries, interviews, original rehearsal footage, bootleg performance videos, and more as I have highlighted the road to Broadway, the Fiyeros, and the Elphabas!

The tribute for Day 4 of Wicked week is another character spotlight, this time on the other leading lady, Galinda. At the beginning of the story she is the ridiculously beautiful and popular girl at Shiz. And she does silly things to get attention, like act even ditsier than she is and change her name to Glinda. Her character change is one of my favorites, because there are definitely different stages of it as you see her make choices that affect her entire life. She realizes that even though in her mind, she is the beautiful cheerleader who gets whatever she wants (including the guy), life doesn't actually work that way. By the end, she has been sobered by her experiences with a best friend like Elphaba.

I must say that it is such a shame that she was too big of a character to be eligible for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. It would have been so great to see both of the Wicked girls take home a spinning statue that night, but unfortunately, they were competing against each other. So watch this video from the original Glinda, Kristin Chenoweth's last time ever to sing her big solo, "Popular." She ad-libs quite a lot, and it's hysterical.



Another now well-known girl who has put on that fabulously sparkly blue dress is Megan Hilty, now of "Smash" fame (I'll totally be that annoying actor friend though, and let you know that I liked her from Wicked way before she was on television). Her Galinda is very different from Kristin's, and it can only be described as feisty. Check it out!


Here's an interesting montage of a bunch of different Glindas singing just "I couldn't be happier today" from "Thank Goodness." Based on this, my favorites are Kristin Chenoweth, Katie Rose Clarke, and Suzie Mathers.



Other Galindas include Annaleigh Ashford, Alli Mauzey (who is playing the role now), and many more, listed below from PlaybillVault.com.



Keep checking Singular Sensation daily for more videos and fun facts about the show this week!

Wicked is about Elphaba (later known as the Wicked Witch of the West) who goes to Shiz University as a social outcast and ends up rooming with Glinda. Despite the odd pairing, the two become best friends. The story is about loyalty and friendship as it follows their journeys as they have to decide who they want to be as opposed to who other people think they are. The original cast included Idina Menzel (Tony Award, Elphaba), Kristin Chenoweth (Tony nomination, Glinda), Norbert Leo Butz (Fiyero, the ridiculously good-looking and self-proclaimed shallow guy at Shiz), and Joel Grey (the Wonderful Wizard of Oz).

Read More:
Wicked the Musical on Broadway
Wicked the Musical official website
Full Wicked cast list (from 2003-2013, click on the box on the right that says "expand replacements")
Kristin Chenoweth on Broadway
Megan Hilty on Broadway

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: www.twitter.com/bwayginger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WICKED Week: Spotlight on the Elphabas

Idina Menzel
Ladies and gentlemen, the day has come. The most successful musical of this generation, Wicked, is celebrating 10 years on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre TODAY, October 30! I can't believe it!

In my humble opinion, it is one of the best, if not the very best musical ever put on stage for many reasons, most important of which is that it really is for everyone. Out of all the non-musical lovers and die-hards I have come across, none disliked it when they saw it. It perfectly combines spectacle with actual plot to form a truly delightful live experience. (translation: to you Phantom fans like me who memorized the soundtrack and were disappointed when you saw the production, realizing it was literally just visual and no plot, this will not happen with Wicked)

Today's spotlight is on the girls who have played the Green Girl herself, Elphaba. Elphaba is the protagonist of Wicked who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West, but all it takes is her first solo, "The Wizard and I," for the audience to realize that she is not wicked at all. She is your average young lead who just wants to find her place in life. Everyone can relate to her feeling like an outcast because she is different, which is one of the many things that makes this character so good.

Idina Menzel (the original Elphaba) pretty much is Elphaba. Everyone else who has played her has been awesome, of course, but there's something magical (ha! see what I did there...) about that original cast member. From the videos I've seen, she had a great understanding of the character and did not overdo it, which is probably partly attributed to the fact that there was not as much hype around it then as there is now. So watch this incredible (and ridiculously good quality) video of Idina Menzel (and Glinda, Kristin Chenoweth) performing "Defying Gravity" on Broadway. I still get chills every time I watch her launch into the air!


It is no wonder that Idina Menzel won a Tony Award for this performance! Watch her acceptance speech below. This one is definitely heartfelt, but it's also hilarious, because she's got this giddy laugh going on and the frenzied franticness about her, which is normal for someone who has to go down a huge list of people to thank. But she can't stop grinning from ear to ear, and she's really not put together, which I think is wonderful.


Below, check out this list (from PlaybillVault.com) of all of the women who have undertaken this insanely important role on Broadway, currently being played by Lindsay Mendez.


This next video is one I only just found, of Stephanie J. Block, who was on tour at the time (before taking over the role on Broadway in 2007), showing how the flying machine works in "Defying Gravity." Wow! Take a look!


Wicked is about Elphaba (later known as the Wicked Witch of the West) who goes to Shiz University as a social outcast and ends up rooming with G(a)linda. Despite the odd pairing, the two become best friends. The story is about loyalty and friendship as it follows their journeys as they have to decide who they want to be as opposed to who other people think they are. The original cast included Idina Menzel (Tony Award, Elphaba), Kristin Chenoweth (Tony nomination, Glinda), Norbert Leo Butz (Fiyero, the ridiculously good-looking and self-proclaimed shallow guy at Shiz), and Joel Grey (the Wonderful Wizard of Oz).

Read More:
Wicked the Musical on Broadway
Wicked the Musical official website
Full Wicked cast list (from 2003-2013, click on the box on the right that says "expand replacements")
Idina Menzel on Broadway
Stephanie J. Block on Broadway

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: www.twitter.com/bwayginger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

WICKED Week: Spotlight on the Fiyeros

Playbill.com
The most successful musical of this generation, Wicked, is celebrating a great milestone on Wednesday. As of October 30, they will have been on Broadway for 10 years. (Scroll down to the bottom for a synopsis and main character list) Miss yesterday's tribute with documentaries, interviews, and original rehearsal footage? Check it out here!  

Wicked Week continues today with a spotlight on the leading man, Fiyero. Fiyero has become one of those parts that everyone plays. It's like a right of passage. So here is a look at some of the men who have played that charismatic, wonderful Winkie Prince.

Here is a screen-shot (PlaybillVault.com) of a list of all of Broadway's Fiyeros:
Clearly a zillion brilliant guys have played this role on Broadway alone (according to PlaybillVault.com, Derek Klena is currently playing the role), so I want to highlight footage from a couple of my favorites.

1. Norbert Leo Butz
The first man to play Fiyero was Norbert Leo Butz, and if you have been reading my blog for an extended period of time (I realize I'm pretty much just addressing my mother), it is no secret that I deeply admire this guy (Exhibit A... Exhibit B... Exhibit C...). Though playing the role at age 36, even he says that he was a little old to be the rebel college heart-throb, he completely embraced the character and made it believable. The best example of this was his big solo, “Dancing Through Life,” in which Fiyero has just arrived at Shiz University and is telling all of his fellow students to just have fun and relax rather than work hard. Whether he is hanging from a set piece or dancing across the stage, everything in his body communicates a scarecrow-like fluidity that resembles instability and imbalance. This isn't the best video of this performance, because it's pretty short, but it's what I could find.

I don't know about you, but those dance moves (especially on the statue) totally bring to mind his rendition of "I'm Alive" from Next to Normal. Anybody? I love this guy.
3. Adam Lambert
Yes indeed. He was in the first national tour as a Fiyero understudy before American Idol! He looks so young though, that this seems a little creepy, but you decide.


Below, check out a YouTube mix of lots of different Fiyeros singing "Dancing Through Life," including Adam Lambert, Aaron Tveit, Clifton Hall (to whom I'm very partial, because he's the only Fiyero I've seen live), and many more from Broadway, touring, and even some British casts.


Keep checking Singular Sensation daily for more videos and fun facts about the show this week!

Wicked is about Elphaba (later known as the Wicked Witch of the West) who goes to Shiz University as a social outcast and ends up rooming with Glinda. Despite the odd pairing, the two become best friends. The story is about loyalty and friendship as it follows their journeys as they have to decide who they want to be as opposed to who other people think they are. The original cast included Idina Menzel (Tony Award, Elphaba), Kristin Chenoweth (Tony nomination, Glinda), Norbert Leo Butz (Fiyero, the ridiculously good-looking and self-proclaimed shallow guy at Shiz), and Joel Grey (the Wonderful Wizard of Oz).

Read More:
Wicked the Musical on PlaybillVault.com
Wicked the Musical official website
Full Wicked cast list (from 2003-2013, click on the box on the right that says "expand replacements")
Norbert Leo Butz on PlaybillVault

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: www.twitter.com/bwayginger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Monday, October 28, 2013

WICKED Week: The Road to Broadway

The most successful musical of this generation, Wicked, is celebrating a great milestone on Wednesday. As of October 30, they will have been on Broadway for 10 years. (Scroll down to the bottom for a synopsis and main character list)

So let's start off the week by taking a look back at what it took to reach Broadway. Here is a short documentary (from the last episode of PBS's Broadway: The American Musical) about the journey of the Wicked team from a rehearsal room to their opening in San Fransisco, and finally to opening night on Broadway.

This first video is mostly more of an overview with short clips featuring many members of the creative team, including composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz, director Joe Mantello, as well as leading ladies Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, giving insight into the production from rehearsal to the opening on Broadway.


The next part of this documentary transitions into a more detailed look at the formative stages, with footage from the San Fransisco tryout production. This is probably my favorite one, because there is a great sequence where we get to see choreographer Wayne Cilento setting a number, which was actually cut, called "Which Way's the Party?" I don't love the song itself, but the choreography was great! Please check out Norbert Leo Butz's awesome moves. It was eventually replaced by "Dancing Through Life." There are also interviews with book writer Winnie Holzman, as well as Joe Mantello, Stephen Schwartz, and producer Marc Platt.


The last video takes a closer look at the insanely detailed and elaborate costumes by costume designer Susan Hilferty (who received a Tony Award for her designs), in addition to scenic details with lighting designer Ken Posner. There are also interviews with the leading ladies.


Wicked is about Elphaba (later known as the Wicked Witch of the West) who goes to Shiz University as a social outcast and ends up rooming with Glinda. Despite the odd pairing, the two become best friends. The story is about loyalty and friendship as it follows their journeys as they have to decide who they want to be as opposed to who other people think they are. The original cast included Idina Menzel (Tony Award, Elphaba), Kristin Chenoweth (Tony nomination, Glinda), Norbert Leo Butz (Fiyero, the ridiculously good-looking and self-proclaimed shallow guy at Shiz), and Joel Grey (the Wonderful Wizard of Oz).

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: www.twitter.com/bwayginger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Monday, October 14, 2013

Best of YouTube: LES MISERABLES Takes on A CHORUS LINE

(added 10/18/13)
Broadway has a lot of golden moments which have fortunately been captured on video and with this new-fangled 21st-century technology, we can all watch them! So I'm starting a new column on Singular Sensation dedicated to the very best in those long lost YouTube treasures. Some of these will be bootlegs of Broadway bloopers, but mostly it's just great, sometimes rare, performances that everyone needs to see but might not have seen.

So today's Broadway YouTube video is a performance from 11 years ago when Les Miserables had just passed A Chorus Line in number of performances and became Broadway's longest-running show. In this video, they celebrate that milestone by having many original cast members (yes, Colm Wilkinson, aka, Mr. Les Mis) come on stage for curtain call. As might be expected, they reprise the show's most famous song, "One Day More," but they also sing another fitting song which was not expected.


From the video I could only identify one cast member in that performance, who of course is Lea Salonga, and based on when it was (and looking up actors on the Les Mis cast list on PlaybillVault.com) I will assume that J. Mark McVey was playing Jean Valjean and Philip Hernandez was Javert. Other than that I have no guesses. Could anyone identify any of the other cast members from the video?

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: www.twitter.com/bwayginger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Norbert Leo Butz Sings New BIG FISH Song

Two-time Tony Award-winner Norbert Leo Butz, the best actor on Broadway and one of my favorite actors ever, is in the new musical adaptation of Big Fish, based on the movie of the same title. As his first return to the Broadway musical stage in two years, the show finally opened this past Sunday (October 6). Back in March, I posted an audio of him singing one of the iconic songs, "Fight the Dragons" in which the character (Edward Bloom) gives a glimpse into his adventures.

As part of The New York Times's "In Performance" series, Norbert sings "Fight the Dragons" in the simplistic video below. Click the picture below to check it out!


It opened to what seemed like ambivalent reviews, saying that it is a fun show with a great spectacle. Most of the reviewers pointed out how wholesome it is and the fact that family-oriented Broadway musicals are rare these days. Of course they all loved Norbert. Check out the full reviews here!

With music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family), and book by John August, Susan Stroman directs/choreographs this fantasy-driven musical and (fittingly, I think) William Ivey Long designed the costumes fresh off of his Tony Award for Cinderella.

Read More:
Norbert Leo Butz on Broadway
Big Fish on Broadway
Norbert Leo Butz and Kate Baldwin sing Big Fish

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: www.twitter.com/bwayginger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway