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 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

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