...Let all Oz be agreed, I'm
through and though.
I went to the matinee yesterday. Let me start by saying it's a Wednesday afternoon, one week before press night. Wicked's London home, the Apollo Victoria is a cavernous barn, some 400 seats BIGGER than the Gershwin. It was sold out. Not bad going, though I did find myself wondering if it would be a repeat of the London run of The Producers and after the Tony Award winning Broadway star departs, so do the audience. I guess we'll see.
Now, as far as the show goes, I can take it or leave it. There are a handful of really great songs, a bigger handful of less than great songs. The character arcs are very badly done and the book as a whole is a mess. If it weren't for Idina Menzel, I probably wouldn't have bothered paying for a ticket. But I'm very glad I did.
There's been a lot of internet chatter about how the cast (Idina aside) aren't great, the English accents don't work, the sound in the auditorium is bad, Galinda isn't landing a laugh, Adam Garcia is the worst Fiyero on the planet and so on and so forth. Well, with one exception, none of the negative online stuff I've read was true of what I saw yesterday. The sound is a bit off sometimes, with people being drowned out by the orchestra. But that's it.
Helen Dallimore is very good as Glinda. She's posh and she's perky and she's infinitely less cutesy and cloying than Kristin Chenoweth. She's managing to land 80% of her funny lines now and the other 20% will come if she stops rushing them. Adam Garcia is a joy as Fiyero, he's hot, he's vain, he can sing and dance. I just want to know who the hell designed his "Dancing Through Life" costume because I could totally tell his religion and I was halfway back. Miriam Margolyes is a very funny Madam Morrible even if she does choose (perhaps wisely) to speak when she should sing. Nigel Planer is the only Brit attempting an American accent as The Wizard and he doesn't quite pull it off. He has nice chemistry with Idina though and he can sing the role just fine. The ensemble are all fine and it's a relief to hear them using British accents rather than failing horribly at American ones. I mean, it's Oz, not the USA, so it's not like it matters, right?
However, the show belongs to the green one. Maybe she's thrilled to be back in the role that brought her acclaim and she can finally get closure after her unceremonious plummet through the trap door meant she missed her last show on Broadway. Maybe she's happy to be London's highest paid theatre actress ever. I don't know what, but after yesterday I am no longer annoyed she won the Tony. And I was. I didn't see her perform the role in person on Broadway, but I saw a bootleg of a preview and was underwhelmed. Then I heard a bootleg of the matinee before Tony night and she was awful. But yesterday she was absolutely fucking sensational. "Defying Gravity" might just be one of the best act one closing songs ever staged and she nailed it in style. When it got to "so if you care to find me", every hair on my body stood up. And stayed that way until about half way through intermission. "No Good Deed" was similarly astonishing. And she acted the role up a storm into the bargain. So take a bow, Deeny. Well played. Well played indeed.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
...Let all Oz be agreed, I'm