Sunday, March 23, 2014

Here and Back Again in NYC - Day 7 - Wicked and Pippin

Hey world! So you guys might have noticed something different about the blog. Yeap I changed it up. I never had changed the layout or anything like that so I felt it was time for a change, let me know if you guys liked it in the comments! 

Over the past few days I’ve been a busy bee. I don’t know if I mentioned this here but I moved back to my parents place in Santos. It was the logical thing to do since I finished college in São Paulo and didn’t have anything there that tied me up to the city itself.  And even if I got a part-time job there all my salary would go to paying rent. So I’m back in my beach cave. I had to bring all of my stuff from São Paulo to Santos and that’s a work in progress but most of my bedroom and bathroom stuff is already here. So I decided to do a little makeover on my bedroom, I cleaned up a lot of unnecessary stuff and donated a bunch of things I don’t use anymore. Plus I bought some shelves to make my live easier and my room less crowded. I’m planning on making a post about that soon.

But let’s go back in time a month to my fabulous 7th day in NYC. I remember that it rained all day and so we thought that there wouldn’t be a soul who would want to stand in line for musical tickets at TKTS. We were wrong. Regardless of the rain the line went on and on, we could do nothing but join in and hope that when we got to the booth there would still be tickets for Pippin. You see some of my friends told me it was a fantastic show and their performance at the Tonys last year was quite remarkable. And so we stood in line, in the rain for about 45 minutes but were able to get nice seats at half the price for that matinee performance.

As we were starving and wet we just went across the street to Oliver Garden for lunch. We did strike a conversation with a French guy who was like Prince Charming material when it came to his looks and also very, very nice. I did tell him that I had just seen a wonderful French opera the night before called Werther but that didn’t seem to ring a bell to him. No one is perfect, right?

At almost two we said our goodbyes and headed off to the theater for Pippin. I felt like me and my mum were the only people in that theater that were watching this show for the first time, that sensation only grew as the show began. I’m still in awe how the whole dynamic of musical theater audiences and manners are SO different from opera. I think I’ve already said this in my Cinderella post but the overture works as a shut up mechanism and also at the end of the musical after everyone has had their rushed bows they keep on playing and people just leave and always a handful of people stay behind and acknowledge that there are real life people playing. Anyways, this hasn’t started very well hun?

View from our Pippin seats
The musical was fun, but it felt more like a night at the circus than a musical. From what I’ve heard this is an old musical but I seriously found it very difficult to find a tune that lingered. If I’m going to be totally honest here the music wasn’t all that interesting, at least in my opinion. And, come on, I’m a musician, if the music isn’t relevant what am I to do?

Let me tell you guys the story, it’s very weird and I don’t know if I got it right. So there’s this lady who owns a theater company or circus company, I don’t know, and they are performing the life of Pippin. But it’s weird because the performance takes place as he lives, and the boy playing Pippin is actually Pippin, or something. Anyways, she tells him he’s bound for greatness and being son of the king and heir to the throne that’s not really hard to believe. And so Pippin goes on and tries to do many things but he fails miserably. The numbers were really amazing, the performers were so good, they could twist and turn their bodies in ways I did not know were humanly possible.

One great feature of this show was the narrator, circus company owner or whatever who was played by Patina Miller. Now Patina has a beautiful singing voice and I had seen her live before doing Sister Act, the musical which was so fantastic. She got a Tony award for this role in Pippin last year and no wonder since she works the trapeze while singing and it's just amazing!

But the thing was, it felt 70% of the time like a circus act. Like I was in the circus watching contortionists and people balance themselves in unfriendly objects and to be completely honest I am not a fan of the circus. Now before you run away and never come back because you think I have no soul because I don’t like the circus, hear me out. I don’t like it for a very simple reason, it makes me nervous! I feel nervous for the people doing their acts knowing that sometimes they don’t have safety nets and that they could be jumping to their deaths and that’s not an idea of a good time for me. So as much as I was impressed by all they could do I was also freaked out.

One incredible highlight was the grandmother, now, she was INCREDIBLE. Because then you had a 65 year old lady doing trapeze stuff with a hot, hot, hot guy and going like ‘yeah, I sail this ship!’. That was awesome! Kudos for Andrea Martin who originated this role in this production and surprise, surprise, got a Tony for it last year. She is AWESOME. She did some operetta you know. She played the Old Lady in Candide some good old years ago. You might know her from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding (I LOVE THIS MOVIE, one of my favorites), she played aunt Voula. She was the aunt, Toula’s dad’s sister, she wore shoulder pads, she’s fab!

Well, the musical was ok I guess, if you like big spectacles with complicated dance routines and unimaginable moves this is definitely for you. But as for the story, I am still trying to figure it out. And I find that there isn’t a real message, it’s all smoke and mirrors.

My mum didn’t like the musical at all. She was thoroughly disappointed so I decided to take her to see something I knew she loved, Wicked. We went to the Wicked theater and I texted Mike and proceeded to buy 3 hot seats for THE coolest, most awesome show on Broadway! I had some great tomato soup nearby the theater with my mum and then waited outside for Mike. He was late, but I think the funniest thing about us going in was that the usher who was zapping the tickets told me I couldn’t go inside with my coffee. So I did something quite alarming, I seriously drank the whole thing in one go right in front of them and even I was a little impressed that I could process so much caffeine at such short notice. I’m proud of me for that.

We went in and took our seats and before we knew it overture hit us.

View from my wicked seat!
Ok, I really love Wicked so this might extend itself a lot, it’s one of my favorite musicals. Sometimes I feel like such a baby, as soon as it started and that flying monkey appeared I was feeling the tears coming. Since I’m feeling generous about talking about musicals that rock I’m gonna go a lot deeper on this one.

So Wicked is the untold story of the Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba. The first scene is actually just after the bucket of water has been thrown on the Witch and she melted and the people rejoiced. So Glinda, the good, appears to confirm the facts and we have our first song “No one mourns the wicked”. I think the only thing I did not like about this was the fact that the girl playing Glinda was trying to imitate Kristen Chenoweth’s voice. We all know how Kristen sounds and bless her heart for her instrument and yes, she did originate Glinda but trying to sound like her made the girl sound squeaky and awful! When she started to sing me and Mike just looked at each other instantly like “Oh no!” .

Kristen Chenoweth in 2003 as Glinda
One of the people asks Glinda if it’s true that she was the Wicked Witch’s friend. Glinda is a little taken aback by that and we flashback to the time they were in college together. One thing that was pretty awesome about this performance was that when Glinda showed up there was a huge ovation for her and when Elphaba showed also, the house felt like it was coming down. And people proceeded to cheer A LOT after songs, during songs when they would do some nice vocal line. It just felt great to have that freedom, it can feel kind of constricted in the opera house with all the rules and the etiquette.

Well we flash back and Elphaba walks in and huge ovation right there. But her fellow classmates don’t think she’s as awesome as we know she is and nobody really likes her because she’s green and has a little bit of an attitude. Her father actually only sent her there to take care of her handicap sister, Nessa, who is a perfectly normal color. The father is not a real fan of Elphie (what a jerk) and dotes on his other daughter openly.

As for Galinda she’s a very spoiled young woman who always gets what she wants. And now she wants to do a witchcraft seminar with the headmistress of the school, Madam Morrible. Things get tangled and Elphaba gets assigned to share a room with Galinda and as they protest Elphie gets nervous and does some magic. The headmistress is impressed and tells Elphaba she will teach her privately and take other students plus giving a ring to the Wizard of Oz about her.

Shoshana Bean as Elphaba in the left and Megan Hilty as Glinda in the right 

Elphaba then proceeds to sing one of the coolest songs in the whole musical The Wizard and I. The girl who was playing Elphaba wasn’t the principal and not even the first replacement and she rocked! I mean, she was SO good and it amazing! She had very good technique which allowed her to play with the song and really feel it and it was really quite incredible.

Idina Menzel as Elphaba, she originated this role
As life proceeded in school Elphaba wasn’t popular at all but found friendship with her history teacher who also happened to be a goat! In Oz animals were just like people, they talk and are sometimes even more intelligent than humans. But the professor warned her that something odd was happening and that he’d been hearing rumors of animals not being allowed to live out their lives as they always had and who had forgotten how to speak!

A new guy arrives in the university named Fiyero and he’s the perfect personification of a charming bad boy, killer looks and lack of sense of responsibility. He sings about how we should all dance through life and not think of our problems and only have a good time (Dancing through life). Galinda and Fiyero come to the conclusion they were made for each other. When a munchkin named Boq tries to ask her out Galinda tells him how the guy who asked Elphaba’s sister out would be her hero he hurries to do just that. 

So everyone is going to this big party and Galinda being the self-centered person that she is gives Elphaba a pointy black hat telling her it’s the latest fashion.  But just as Elphaba arrives at the party wearing the hat and everyone proceeds to laugh at her, the headmistress goes up to Galinda and tells her she can be in the witchcraft lessons because Elphaba insisted she also took them. Now Galinda is feeling like the worst person in the face of the planet and Elphaba starts doing a crazy dance all by herself while others watch and laugh. Galinda joins her in dancing and before you know it everyone is dancing quite a beautiful choreography and finally accepting Elphaba.

Galinda and Elphaba bond and Galinda tells her that she’s going to give her a makeover and teach her how to popular in a very funny song of that said name. Even though the girl was imitating Kristen it wasn’t all that bad because she sounded real funny in the spoken bits and she did add her own personal touch to the character which made her even funnier.  

After that things start to look up for Elphaba but one day they fire her goat teacher, Dr. Dillamod and bring into the classroom a cage with a lion cub preaching how good these things are for animals because then they will never learn how to speak. Elphaba is enraged by this and uses her powers to make an escape with the lion cub and Fiyero who helps her. There’s an awkward moment between the two as they free the lion cub but Elphaba knows they can never be (I’m not that girl).

The wizard wants to meet Elphaba so he invites her to go to the Emerald City. Galinda isn’t really well because ever since that day with the lion cub Fiyero has been different, as she herself says “He’s been thinking!” which apparently isn’t a good thing. And he indeed seems changed somehow, concerned about their goat professor. Galinda in an attempt to seem worried about the teacher states that since the professor never could pronounce her name correctly she would change her name to Glinda. (What? Yeah!)

Elphaba invites Glinda to go to the Emerald City with her and off they go! But when Elphaba finally gets to meet the Wizard harsh reality punches her in the face. Because you see, she wanted to tell him of all the things people had been doing to animals so he could stop it, but the thing was, he was actually behind all that. Furthermore he possessed no magic whatsoever, that’s why he was so interested in her, she had magic that could help him carry on his plan to separate humans from animals.

After learning all this Elphaba panics, grabs the spell book and runs for the roof. Glinda follows her. Elphaba can’t work for the wizard after all she’s heard and is resolute in running away and telling everyone the truth about the wizard. But as soon as she’s out his door he announces that she stole his spell book and that she’s a liar and wicked.

That leaves Elphie with very little options but to run, she enchants a broom for it to fly and asks Glinda if she would come with her. But Glinda decides to stay behind and hold off the guards so Elphaba can escape and there’s that moment that my eyes fill with tears and my mouth hangs open, when she freaking flies. I know how the whole thing works, where the machine holds her and how the effect is made but still it’s so freaking perfect that it does indeed seem as if she’s flying and quite literally Defying Gravity. End of act one with screams, tears and cheers!

On to act two and it opens with one of my favorite songs, Thank Goodness. Some time has passed and Glinda has been appointed to be Glinda, the good, kind of like a cheerleader to spread joy and hope to the people of OZ, or something. And Fiyero is now the captain of the Wizard’s guard and Elphaba is still in the run. The people from Oz now believe all sorts of weird things about Elphaba, like that she has a third eye, or that she can change her skin and even that her soul in so impure pure water can melt her.

While that happens we are brought to the estate of Elphaba’s family for she goes there to ask aid from her sister. Her sister is not at all happy to see her and confronts her, telling her that she never ever used her powers to help her get out of her wheelchair. Elphaba is taken aback but puts a spell on her sister’s diamond shoes and as they burn up and turn into ruby her sister can finally walk. She calls on Boq and tells him now they can be happy together because she can walk. But Boq is in love with Glinda and now that Nessa can walk he can finally tell Glinda how he feels. Those news are not welcome to Nessa who is so mad and so desperate to have Boq’s heart to herself that she starts chanting something from Elphaba’s spell book and Boq starts tugging his chest. Elphaba tries desperately to fix her sister’s mistake and after she’s taken care of Boq she goes away. We can’t see Boq and as he wakes up and comes out of his hiding place we see he’s become the Tin man, he has no heart. PRETTY COOL!

So Elphaba heads off to the Wizard’s place to try and free the winged monkeys she created by accident. The wizard finds her and tries to convince her to come to his side and he almost succeeds. He calls on the guards and who shows up but Fiyero who is absolutely stunned to see Elphaba and in a heartbeat has his riffle pointed to the Wizard and is telling Elphaba to run. Glinda arrives just to see this exchange and then Fiyero makes the decision to go with Elphaba.

Now it’ Glinda’s turn to sing I’m not that girl. Since she’s very upset she tells the Wizard that to get to Elphaba he should make her believe that something had happened to her sister. But the wizard knows that Elphaba is too smart and a rumor won’t do and that’s why a house was dropped on Nessa, the wicked witch of the East.

But before that happened Fiyero and Elphaba are having a romantic and fiery duet about how much they care for each other. It’s pretty hot. Elphaba though senses there’s something wrong and rushes to where her sister was and BAM, she’s been hit by a house.

Glinda is there paying her respects to Nessa and when Elphaba arrives they have an awesome catfight. The guards seize Elphaba and just as they are about to take her away Fiyero appears and holds Glinda as a hostage so Elphaba can escape. She does but he is seized and condemned to die. As Elphaba gets to his abandoned castle she’s trying to do any kind of magic to save him (No good deed).

When Glinda arrives in her castle Elphaba is pretty much defeated and doesn’t believe that even with all her power she can make a change for the better. So she hands her spell book to Glinda and says “Now it’s up to, for both of us” and they sing one of the most beautiful and tear producing duets in musical theater history, For Good. It’s about friendship and it lasting forever, I sing it with my sister and with my good, good friend Paula, I love them. Anyways, I cried a lot.

And then we see that iconic scene from The Wizard of Oz, the little girl throwing a bucket of water on her and Elphaba melting through a sheet, so we only shadows. When the sheet is drawn the only thing that’s left is Elphaba’s black hat that Glinda gave her all that time ago. I’m crying just writing this,  you can imagine how I was when I was actually seeing this, hot mess. Glinda takes the hat and goes on her bubble and we come back to the first scene of the musical.

Glinda then proceeds to send the wizard away because he wasn’t even from the land of Oz, he’s from our world. He did spend the whole show drinking from a green bottle when in distress and Glinda says she’s only seen another green bottle like that with one other person, Elphaba. The bottle belonged to her mother, and then we find out that Elphaba was actually the Wizard’s daughter and the reason why she had such powers was because she was a child of both worlds.

As the cries of joy from the people diminish a scarecrow enters and hits the floor 3 times and opens it up. He cries “It worked!”. Elphaba comes out from the trap door and we then learn that her spell was able to save Fiyero from execution but it had also transformed him into a scarecrow. And so they head off to another world never turning back to Oz and their friend Glinda never knowing that they were both alive.

Isn’t this like the best fanfiction ever written or what? The story of this musical is based on a book by Gregory Maguire who based her story in the Wizard of Oz movie and book, meaning, fanfiction.

Mike and me after the show
Well after the musical me and Mike went to the stage door because we wanted to congratulate the lady playing Elphaba. But it was so weird. There were a lot of people waiting out in the cold and some of the performers came out and autographed their programs and took pictures. Then suddenly this lady comes up to the line and says “Those are all the performers who will be coming out from this door tonight” and everybody leaves. Neither Elphaba nor Glinda came out to greet all those girls who were standing in the cold, I thought that was preposterous. I mean, seasoned stars from the Met, people who are so much bigger and older than these ladies come out the stage door every time and greet their fans. And don’t start me with “They are tired” “It’s a tough show” because 1- they wear microphones and 2 – Renée Fleming was also tired but she talked to everyone, signed everything she was given and took pictures with everyone that asked.

Anyways, after that me and Mike headed to Greenwich Village to meet our Russian friends of a late dinner or something. Getting there we happened to stumble upon a drunk opera student and it was hilarious, he made us add him on facebook right then. We met our friends in a diner and we just hanged out there, talked, ate, it was really fun! But then Mike had to pack and my mum was already freaking out so we left at about 1, 2 in the morning.

aren't we adorable?
On our way back uptown we met the nicest couple and talked to them for a bit. Mike left and we had this big hug moment and I was so sad he was leaving! The couple was really moved by our exchange and then I found out that, surprise, surprise, they were both opera singers! WHAT ARE THE ODDS?

And that’s basically it, that day was fun! Jut so you guys know the pictures from Wicked are from many different casts throughout the 10 years it's been on Broadway but I did put in more pictures of Shoshana Bean as Elphaba and Megan Hilty as Glinda because they are my favorites! 

And now it' freaking Once Upon a Time time PLUS the comeback of the last season of Drop Dead Diva! Tonight is gonna be awesome! Peace everyone!

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