After a late night Friday, we had the luxury of being able to sleep in a bit before getting ready and heading into New York for our day without the kids. The first half of the day would be lunch and a matinee showing of Wicked, a show that I have been wanting to see for a long time. I know many people that have seen it, and nobody has ever had anything bad to say about it.
|Wicked - Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel|
We got into the city around 11:30am or so, with no leftover traffic from the Pope leaving that morning (heading to Philly!) that we could tell. We parked relatively near the Gershwin Theater, and looked for a place for lunch. We settled for an obvious choice a block or so away from the theater: the Stardust Diner. This is the place where all the waitstaff are Broadway wannabe's, and sing throughout the restaurant while serving. It was cliche, and touristy, and terrific. The food was good, not grossly overpriced for New York (a rarity), and the entertainment was very good. It might be cliche, but it's cliche for a reason.
|Gershwin Theater Marquee|
As for Wicked, I can't say enough good about it. I have the soundtrack, and know the music pretty well, but without having seen the show (or read the book by Gregory Maguire), the gaps between some of the songs didn't make much sense. Now they do. The Gershwin Theater, where the show has been running for about 12 years, was a really nice theater - fairly modern (at least in its renovation), spacious, with comfortable seats and good leg room. Sight lines were good and the stage was huge (both tall and wide). The stage was so wide that they had room for purely gratuitous decoration flanking both sides of the wide stage.
|Wicked, Gershwin Theater Stage|
For the show itself, the music was great, singing was fantastic, acting was good, and the effects were terrific. The show was very cleverly written to tie backwards into The Wizard of Oz in so many different ways, but to also turn all of the old story on its head. It was funny, engaging, and moving. We loved it. Rachel Turner, apparently relatively new to the cast, was fabulous as Elphaba. Kara Lindsay was beyond great as Galinda/Glinda. I couldn't help but thinking throughout the show that she was doing an over the top impression of Kristen Chenoweth (she probably was, like they mostly all probably do), but it was great.
A few clips:
- Defying Gravity at the 2004 (?) Tony awards, with original cast members Kristin Chenoweth (Galinda/Glinda, the "Good" Witch) and Idina Menzel (Elphaba, the "Wicked" Witch). Simply brilliant. One of my favorite songs from a musical.
- Popular - Kristin Chenoweth's last performance with Idina Menzel before Chenoweth left the show. Interesting due to all the ad-libs added in the middle that aren't in the scene, including Chenoweth telling Menzel she's beautiful. They can't stop cracking up...
Overall, I would say that this has might have become my second favorite musical, taking everything into account. Les Miserables is the best, of course. For pure non-stop unrelenting entertainment, Aladdin is tops. For innovation and spectacle, it's hard to beat Lion King. But this is very very good in every aspect.
Next...Saturday part 2.