“A Very Wicked Halloween” Review

This was a special concert celebrating Wicked’s 15 years on Broadway. It aired on NBC on Monday at 10, but that was too late for me, so I prerecorded it. So I ended up watching it on Tuesday. Idina Menzel and Kirstin Chenworth, the original Elphaba and Glinda hosted the special. Those two actresses are some of the most well-known actresses on Broadway. Idnia won a Tony for her performance as Elphaba.

The concert began at the Gershwin Theater with the current cast performing “One Short Day”. My first thought was “I cannot believe my first time time seeing Wicked was at that theatre”. It was crazy believing I once saw Wicked there. That experience began my journey with Wicked.

The performances were all Wicked songs. The second song was “As Long as Your’e Mine”. It was between Adam Lambert and Ledisi. I learned that Adam Lambert did play Fiyero at one point.  I loved it as well. “As Long As Your’e Mine” is one of the favorite moments in Wicked. I love the mystical feeling of the mist and fog and how unexpected it is. I learned in this concert that every performance Wicked uses 400 tons of dry ice- that’s a lot.

Now we get to a performance by Kirsten Chenoweth. It is “Popular”, my favorite song from Wicked. It was my favorite song as a 12 year old- I was that old when I saw the musical on Broadway. While she still sings the same song, she adds her own little twist to the song at times, and it makes it very funny.

I mean how can earth can a group of 5 singers pull of an ensemble number. That is what Pentatonix sang. They somehow pulled it off. Still “What is This Feeling” is an ensemble number, which requires more than 5 singers. Still they still managed it.

Of course Idnia Menzel sang “Defying Gravity”. She still got it. She still can pull it off. This song is one of the most act I closers. This is the moment when Elphaba finally matures and says nothing will hold her back. Such a huge-character moment for Elphaba.

The next number in the list is Ariana Grande singing “Wizard and I”. Loved this singing as well. The first moment we really get to meet Elphaba.

But the best moment in this concert is “For Good”- they got together a number of former Elphabas and Glinda and together they sang “For Good”. That was very touching. Idnia Menzel and Kristen Chenoworth started the song, and soon enough the others joined in. I mean- that was the best moment of the evening.

I don’t when this happened, but there was a moment where on a map, they like showed various countries Wicked has played in. Each country was singing a bit of the show- that does help show just how massive the musical has become. I mean- 15 years- incredible. “Because I know you, I have been changed for good”- that is what is has done for me.

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I Have Been Changed

October 30th, 2018- Wicked celebrated 15 years on Broadway.

Little did I know in 2006 at age of 12 when I stepped foot in the Gershwin Theater I would be changed for good. I don’t have vivid memories of that night. All I remember was that I saw Wicked with my mom, and that “Popular” was my favorite song. Despite the fact that I don’t remember much, the impact clearly shows. Wicked sparked my love for musicals- that was a big reason why it changed me for good. The picture below is from when I saw Wicked the 1st time.

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The two storylines I focus on the most are the friendship and the love triangle. I don’t remember when I picked up on the love triangle- it was either the 1st or 2nd time I saw the show. At least I knew it was connected. In addition, Wicked was when I began to understand what it means to have an emotional connection- of all Wicked characters, the only characters I formed an emotional connection to are Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero. The character I formed the most emotional connection to belonged to Elphaba, a character I strongly relate to. Like Elphaba, I am smart, determined, unique, big-hearted, and believe in equality and staying true to myself: that is why she is my all-time favorite musical character. With Wicked- the negative emotions came to the forefront: that is when I began to understand sad in the first place.

Before Wicked, I didn’t understand complex stories or complex characters. I started to understand that concept because of Wicked. I think it most likely was the 2nd time when I realized Elphaba and Glinda were complex character. Before I didn’t realize, musicals were home to subplots so Wicked was the beginning of understanding subplots. For instance, the main plot is focused on the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda, but one of Wicked’s subplots is the love triangle between the girls and Fiyero. Those two storylines are the ones I pay the most attention to. Only “For Good” and “I’m Not That Girl” are the only songs that stuck with me growing up that were home to sad- that’s it. So Wicked was crucial to the start of complex plots and the beginning of understanding the importance of sad and what it meant for a song to be sad in the first place.

What is my vision in musicals? A happy and comic musical with spectacle and dance with complexity and romance with positive and negative emotions in the score and a strong emotional connection. That was my vision before my first year of college. I had interpreted Wicked as a comedy- still do- part of that comes from I still kind of approach it from the point of view of a 12 year old. The picture below comes from the 3rd time- my date with my dad. Funny story: before the show began, the tallest guy in the auditorium sat in front of me, and my dad switched seats with me giving me the better view.

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(Off Wicked for a bit)

Les Mis entered my life in 2013. With Wicked, I discovered sad- I thought the negative emotions could not do anything else. Les Mis proved everything wrong- I thought ALL musicals were HAPPY- Les Mis showed me that TRAGIC musicals exist and that HEARTBREAK is an emotion. To be honest, I do not think Les Mis would have entered my life or had the impact it had on my life if Wicked never entered my life.

Okay, just like Wicked, Les Mis is home to a love triangle. The song, “On My Own”, would help one of Wicked’s songs. It took from 2013-2014 for “On My Own” to go from just a sad to a heartbreaking song. “On My Own” is an unrequited love song. Soon enough, in the 2014-2015 year span, I realized that “I’m Not That Girl” is also an unrequited love. By realizing that, I was able to figure out “I’m Not That Girl” is not just a sad song like I once believed- it also helped that I choose to memorize the lyrics. Memorizing the lyrics made me find the parallel lyrics between “On My Own” and “I’m Not That Girl”.

The picture below comes from the 4th time. I went with Gardner Webb. Gardner Webb is one hr away from Charlotte. Student Activities took 50 of us- I was one of the first to sign up. I was the most vulnerable the 4th time. This is the Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero I can describe the best. For starters, the emotions were the deepest because I came in knowing “I’m Not That Girl” was heartbreaking. 2nd) It was the first time “No Good Deed” had emotions in it. 3rd) Elphaba and Glinda were excellent: the best casts tend to have an excellent Elphaba and Glinda- it always make it better. 4) I was watching Wicked with a school that changed me for good. 5) I was determined to want to know why the plot twist in the love triangle happened- I didn’t to leave with that “why” question.

Funny story: after the show ended, we went to the bus, and the bus turned out to be broken down.

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With Wicked, the 2nd time was better than the 1st, the 3rd time was better than the 2nd and the 4th time was better the 3rd- it just keeps on better each and every time. I always discover something new. I get so lost in the friendship and love triangle that I keep on overlooking everything else.

So Wicked is my #1 favorite musical (but, what about Les Mis). Well, Les Mis is tied with Wicked. What makes Les Mis, the musical I am obsessed with, hard to push past Wicked: 1) I relate to Elphaba (I don’t exactly relate to any of the Les Mis characters) and 2) Wicked is home to spectacle and dance. So Wicked has some bonuses in it that Les Mis doesn’t.

Favorite songs in Wicked: “Popular”, “What is This Feeling”, “Dancing Through Life”, “I’m Not That Girl”, “One Short Day”, “Defying Gravity”, “As Long As Your’e Mine”, “For Good”. So “I have been changed for good”.

Are you a fan of Wicked? If so, why? What are your favorite storylines?

What Makes Wicked’s Love Triangle my Favorite

I have talked about this topic more times than I should on my blog: love triangle. There is one in particular I love more than the others. It has evolved a lot over the years. My favorite love triangle of musical theatre is found in Wicked. It is found between Elphaba-Fiyero-Glinda. Why is that.

1) It is the first one I emotionally bonded with. This sounds like a crazy reason. It is so true. I first discovered the concept of love triangles in Wicked. I don’t remember if I first was aware of the love triangle during the 1st time I saw Wicked or the 2nd time I saw Wicked. I do know it was connected to one of the two. I don’t know if “I’m Not That Girl” started as emotionless or if it began as just a sad song- did I realize it was a sad song my 1st time or the 2nd- once again know it was connected to those two times.

Spoilers ahead:

2) Complexity- It is more complex than the Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera love triangle. In Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera- Marius and Cosette and Raoul and Christine are a couple while Phantom and Eponine are struggling with the heartbreak and pain of unrequited love- it stays that way.

What makes Wicked’s love triangle more complex? It begins like this: Fiyero and Glinda are a couple while Elphaba is dealing with the pain and heartbreak of unrequited love- you think that setup is endgame- you think that Elphaba will have unrequited love for the entire musical. Fast forward to the top of act II- Fiyero realizes something- he is in love with Elphaba- he decides to break up with Glinda leaving her dealing with the pain and heartbreak of unrequited love. So now, Elphaba and Fiyero are a couple and Glinda is dealing with the pain of unrequited love. So you have two girls getting hurt in one love triangle- it is not straight forward due to that. How do the two girls respond to the unrequited love? They decide not to steal Fiyero away- that to me shows their loyalty towards each other- they want to keep friendship alive. Why does this plot twist happen? Based upon the last time I saw Fiyero, I believe Fiyero had a crush on Elphaba without knowing, and did not realize it until act II- my actor, Ashley Parker Angel went ahead and in act I decided to have stronger chemistry with Elphaba and weaker chemistry with Glinda in act I foreshadowing the plot twist. Wicked’s love triangle is much more complex than the Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis group- all because of Fiyero’s role- he was the one who was responsible for the plot twist. Before my 4th time- I always left the theatre with “why”- I never grasped why the plot twist happened.

3) Elphaba- The fact that Elphaba is part of this love triangle is a HUGE reason why Wicked is home to my favorite love triangle. Elphaba is my all-time favorite musical theatre character. I see a lot of myself in her, and there are parts of her I don’t see myself in. So there is a bonus. That might be takes almost a bit far, but that is true.

4) Elphaba X Fiyero x Glinda- This is connected to #3. I made it known that in Wicked I am emotionally connected to only three characters. They happen to be Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero: I only am fully focused on the friendship and the love triangle each time I see Wicked. Characters play a huge part in my love of a romantic sub-plot. The entire storyline is on Elphaba and Glinda- their friendship. All three characters are complex- yes, you might think only Elphaba and Glinda are complex. But there is more to Fiyero than you think.  The complexity of this love triangle is not just because the unrequited love shifts- it is also because all three characters are complex. In high school, I remember knowing that the love triangle was fascinating and adding an incredible texture to Wicked, but I did not understand why.

The 4th time I saw Wicked- the love triangle went through some drastic changes- after my 3rd time- before my 4th time- I came to a realization- “I’m Not That Girl” is a heartbreaking song- figured that out due to “On My Own” and memorizing the lyrics. Due to paying even closer attention to Fiyero, I was able to have a clearer idea why the plot twist happened. Due to knowing “I’m Not That Girl” was heartbreaking coming in, I had to look at that song fresh as if I never heard that song before- I knew I wanted to think more about what I was feeling- I had to pay even closer attention to the Lion Cub Scene- 1) to look for clues pointing to the plot twist and 2) to understand how heartbreaking “I’m Not That Girl” is.

Favorite Friendships in Musicals

You know how love shows up a LOT in musicals through ROMANCE? What about love that shows up through friendship? What are the memorable ones for me? Today, I thought I will talk about those.

Major and Minor Spoilers:

1. Elphaba and Glinda- seriously, what can this post be without Elphaba and Glinda? They are the first friendship I ever fell in love with in a musical. You never thought they would be best friends. They started out as basically enemies, than later became best friends. When they both fell in love with Fiyero, they did not let a boy get in the way of their friendship. They changed each others lives for the better. The fact that Wicked centers on their friendship is why Wicked is one of my top two favorite musicals. “For Good”, the most emotional song in the musical, really shows just how they changed each others lives for the better. It is a bittersweet moment for the two of them- it is the last moment they will see each other, but at least they can say what they meant to each other.

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2. Enjolras and the Students- I just love their brotherly love for each other. You just can’t help but love them. Then you love their hope and passion for their cause. I just love how they take in Gavroche. I really love how they keep their passion strong- even at the end when they know they are going to die.

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3. Newsies- I am going straight to the Newsies because the Newsies parallel Enjolras and the students. Just like the students, the Newsies have a cause they truly believe in and have hope in it plus have a brotherly love for it. The result is different: only difference in the Newsies is that they win. On a side note: I love the intimate bond found between Jack and Crutchie: I just love how they are best friends and that Jack is so protective of Crutchie. Jack is the one who cares more about his brothers than the strike, but it is Crutchie he cares about the most.

 

4. Rent Batch- This is another friendship I love. I love how they live how they do their best to live their lives in love and in the moment. They may not get along at times, but they do make up for it. They are this family.

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5. Lumiere and Cogsworth- I don’t what it is about these two, but there is something interesting about this friendship. I mean we are talking about a talking candle and a talking clock throughout most of Beauty and the Beast. I find something fascinating about this friendship- don’t you find something fascinating about this particular friendship?

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6. Marius and Eponine- I know this is a unpopular opinion, but I do enjoy their friendship. Look, Eponine has a dark and tragic life: at least Marius is in her life. People believe Marius is a jerk to Eponine. I do not believe that at all. Marius and Eponine are seen as close friends in the musical- I know that doesn’t exist in the book- I like how that is changed in the musical. It makes the love triangle stronger and “A Little Fall of Rain” more emotional. Marius is kind to Eponine, and that is why she falls in love with him. I know it doesn’t seem that way when Marius asks Eponine to find Cosette for him and those other errands.

I believe at the barricade, Marius asks Eponine to deliver the letter to try to protect her from the uprising. He does not want her to get hurt or worse KILLED. That is why he was worried when she came back. That is why he asked, “why she came back”. When she collapsed in his arms, he realized she was shot, and that her wound was fatal. He was devastated. He could have left her in that moment, but he didn’t. He stayed with her- that shows he is kind and sweet. By being with her in that moment, it shows an incredible act of COMPASSION. He offers her comfort and peace while she was dying. It shows that he truly did care about her.

This line after she died shows that he knew how dark her life was- “her name was Eponine, her life was cold and dark, yet she was unafraid”.

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Ironic Heartbreaking Musical Theatre Love Songs

What on earth do I mean by an ironic heartbreaking love musical theatre song? These are love songs where you don’t except to happen or where things improve in the end. There are going in be spoilers due to explaining why they are ironic in the first place.

1. This Nearly Was Mine- Emelie sings this breakup song after Nellie leaves him. The irony comes from the fact that Nellie comes back to Emelie in the end.

2. I’m Not That Girl/I’m Not That Girl (Reprise)- When Elphaba sings “I’m Not That Girl”, the unrequited love song, little does she know that Fiyero will eventually realize that he loves her, and that they will get together. That is why you don’t except Glinda to sing “I’m Not That Girl (reprise)”, and that happens after Fiyero breaks up with her.

3. If I Can’t Love Her/ If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise)- ironic in the fact that the spell will eventually be broken. Beast feels like Belle will never love him. The reprise is actually more heartbreaking than the first one because he actually has fallen in love with Belle at that point. He has just released Belle as his prisoner, and he believes that Belle doesn’t love him, but in reality she does.

There are other heartbreaking love musical theatre songs, but they are not ironic.

New Series: Top Songs from Each Musical

I thought of a new series. My top songs from each musical I love. I want it to my top ten songs; but I can’t think of ten, will be much lower. I will start with Wicked; only because it sparked my love for musicals.

1. For Good- of course, this is one of my favorites. This one is the most emotional song from the entire musical. This represents the center core the musical: the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda. This is when the two talk about what they mean to each other; but bittersweet in the sense that they will never see each other other again. I have a rule for Elphaba and Glinda actresses: you cannot have an excellent Elphaba without an excellent Glinda and you cannot have cannot have an excellent Glinda without an excellent Elphaba: the show just wouldn’t work out.

2. Popular- I have a very very special reason behind this. At age 12 when I first saw Wicked. I saw the show on Broadway and at the age of 12, this was my favorite song. Due to that memory, it was my favorite song from Wicked ever since. It was the first moment the girls truly have become friends. It is a hilarious song and you truly start to understand Glinda through this number.

3. Wizard and I- This is Elphaba’s first big moment. You get to see Elphaba’s innocence and hope in this song. You first truly meet Elphaba in this song. That is why I love it so much.

4. Defying Gravity- Elphaba no longer is much innocent in this song. Instead she has matured in this song. She has decided to go on another path and this is when she has matured. This is a perfect act I closer and one of the best special effect moments.

5. I’m Not That Girl- just like For Good is an emotional song, so is I’m Not That Girl. This song after all is about unrequited love. This is the first moment we hear this song. Elphaba sings this version. Elphaba understands she isn’t good enough for Fiyero because after all she is green. She even decides not to pursue Fiyero because of her best friend. So this song is heartbreaking after all.

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6. Dancing Through Life- this is when Fiyero gets into the story. I love how this is when Elphaba and Glinda finally get to bond with each other. It is one of the best dancing numbers in the show. A lot is going on this number: this is when Fiyero and Glinda start going out: You learn that Nessa loves Boq: you also learn that Boq has a crush on Glinda. Yes, that sounds like a lot. There is a school dance in there as well. Still many many things happen in this song. My favorite moment in this song is when Glinda makes something special out of Elphaba’s silly dance.

7. What is This Feeling- this is a wonderful dance number. You get a feeling of how much Glinda and Elphaba feel about each other about other at first. They dislike each other at first. You even see how many people feel about Elphaba as well. This is just an unique dance scene to look at as well.

8. One Short Day- I just love this number by seeing all of the Emerald City costumes. Now you truly know that Elphaba and Glinda are best friends. I just love the different spectacle moments in this songs.

9. As Long As Your’e Mine- well act I has Elphaba’s unrequited love song, I’m Not That Girl. Now Elphaba is singing with Fiyero a love song. So Fiyero has realized he is in love with Elphaba in act II. This song has this mystical feeling taking place in the forest with them kneeling in fog. They both have truly matured at the time. Elphaba is no longer that innocent and Fiyero is not that jerk he was in act I. The song reflects that. The song is so unexpected. So the love triangle is complicated in the fact that you never think these two will fall in love with each other for a multiple of reasons: well Elphaba used to dislike him; then Elphaba fell in love with him, but then she has unrequited love for him, but in act II he realized his true feelings for her.

for now, I only have a top 9. The next group will be for Les Mis- oh boy.

Standouts in Musicals

I never really talked about this. Standouts do exist whenever you see a musical. But what exactly makes certain actors standout more than others. That is very very hard to explain. It always has something to do with their performance: they are the ones that go above and beyond with their performance. They add something unique to their portrayal. Below I will mention some of my standouts in some of the musicals I have recently seen.

Minor and Major Spoilers:

Les Mis ( Tour 2017): Nick Cartell, Matt Shingledecker, Joshua Grosso

Nick Cartell (Jean Valjean)- I know he was one of the standouts, but that is hard to describe. I could tell he was throughout his portrayal. I had seen him previously in the ensemble of Phantom of the Opera. So I loved seeing him go from ensemble to lead. Part of why he stood out is his breathtaking and soulful performance of “Bring Him Home”. It was strong enough, but quiet enough for what the song required. It truly sounded like a prayer.

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Matt Shingledecker (Enjolrass)- Honestly don’t really know why he was a standout at all. But I could just tell he was.

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Joshua Grosso (Marius)- I like to describe his Marius as charming and awkward. I was extremely surprised of how much he stood out. I am always expecting Eponine to be the strongest actor in the love triangle, but in this situation, Joshua was the strongest actor in the love triangle. Much more my focus ended up being on Marius instead of Eponine. That sounds a bit odd in a way considering the fact that of all the characters in the love triangle, Eponine is my favorite character. But it did make me view the love triangle from a different perspective. It is important for me to get to know all three characters.

He embodied Marius perfectly while still bringing something new. I never knew Marius was awkward until Joshua. The awkwardness made me learn to love Marius even more. At “A Heart Full of Love”, he was like “I’m in love, but what on earth do I do with it”. It was really effective. As I was watching “A Little Fall of Rain”, he focused much more on comforting Eponine than showing how heartbroken he was. He showed his heartbreak at the end:  he actually acted stunned: he could not finish the song at first: he waited about 5-10 seconds: that is what I mean by stunned and then the way he said “grow” was hard for me to listen to. He really brought out all of his trauma and heartbreak during “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”. Because of what Joshua was able to do with Marius, he became my favorite Marius.

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Wicked (Tour 2016): Mary Kate Morrissey, Amanda Jane Copper, Ashley Parker Angel

About Wicked, I focus so much on Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero that I forget that the others so those three actors always easily standout from the others.

Mary Kate Morrissey (Elphaba): She was an excellent Elphaba. You never would suspect she was a standby. She embodied everything about Elphaba. She made appreciate a song I always hated and emotions in that song finally stuck. She was able to change her voice to match Elphaba’s. From a more innocent voice in most of act I to a more mature voice starting at “Defying Gravity”.

Amanda Jane Copper (Glinda): Here’s my rule about Elphaba and Glinda: you can’t have an excellent Elphaba without an excellent Glinda and vice versa. Amanda Jane Copper was just hilarious and every funny line of Glinda’s I laughed at. You could feel Glinda’s pain act II. You got to “For Good”, and I teared up at their very emotional song.

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Ashley Parker Angel (Fiyero): I was determined to get to the bottom of him this time around so I dug deeper. So the Lion Cub scene hit. He played that scene as if he has a crush on Elphaba, but doesn’t know it. I love how he played Fiyero in that way. He already showed weaker chemistry with Glinda and stronger chemistry with Elphaba foreshadowing the unrequited love shift in act II.

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Pippin (Tour 2015): Lisa Karlin

Lisa Karlin (Leading Player) -I was much more intrigued by the Leading Player’s portrayal than Pippin. She was able to be playful with a tad bit of evil in “Magic to Do”. Around Pippin, she was able to hide her darkness so that Pippin could trust her. So she was very crafty and very manipulative. In songs such as “Glory”, she was so much more dark and evil that you can tell that she was the antagonist of the musical. There is something very intriguing about the character. I may have been new to the show at time, but everyone I know about the character comes from just one actress. Usually I don’t know all of this information from just one actor or actress. This actress seemed to spend a lot of time getting to know her character and make it her own. She also tricked the audience.