Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Long Yellow-Brick Road to Wicked

I doubt anyone reading this hasn't heard of Wicked, the stage musical that tells "the untold story of the witches of Oz." I had first heard of this musical back in the summer of 2003 when our pal Steve M. caught a performance of the pre-Broadway try-out at San Francisco's Curran Theater.

Wicked at the Pantages Theater. (02/27/2008)
Wicked at the Pantages Theater. (02/27/2008)

Several months later, the show opened on Broadway to enormous acclaim, especially for the two leads Idina Menzel (Elphaba) and Kristin Chenoweth (Glinda). It wasn't until I saw them perform the amazing "Defying Gravity" number on the Tony Awards the following June that I got bit by the Wicked bug. I knew then I needed to see this show.

Musical Theatre Sensation: Wicked
Musical Theatre Sensation: Wicked

Our first opportunity to see Wicked in person came when the National Tour came to Los Angeles in June 2006. Our pal Jason, who at the time was working for The Center Orange County, alerted us that the organization was planning a fundraiser where you could buy tickets for a bus-chauffeured trip to Wicked.

Wicked, the Broadway Sensation.
Wicked, the Broadway Sensation.

We had participated in the same type of fundraiser in 2000 when we saw The Lion King , which worked out great. We told Jason to sign us up as soon as details were announced. As it turned out the group tickets sold out through word of mouth, even before the event was announced.

The Pantages Theater is a great place to see a show. (02/27/2008)
The Pantages Theater is a great place to see a show. (02/27/2008)

We didn't get to see it in L.A., but we weren't worried. Two months later the National Tour of Wicked traveled 45 miles south to the Orange County Performing Arts Center for a two-and-a-half-week stint. We would see it then.

Caissie Levy played Elphaba the night we saw the show. Photo courtexy of Rick Yribe.
Caissie Levy played Elphaba the night we saw the show. Photo courtesy of Rick Yribe.

Easier said than done. We tried buying three tickets (the third being for my boss-at-the-time Lisa, who, like us, was dying to see the show). As it turned out there was such overwhelming demand by so many people, that the day tickets went on sale, the website froze up for hours. After three hours of trying via the telephone and not getting through, I gave up.

Megan Hilty played Glinda the night we saw the show. Photo courtesy of Rick Yribe.
Megan Hilty played Glinda the night we saw the show. Photo courtesy of Rick Yribe.

I tried getting tickets on eBay. That didn't prove to be very beneficial. Not only were the tickets listed at outrageous prices, it was next to impossible to get three tickets. They were only sold in pairs or in groups of four, which were even more expensive. So we gave up.

The grand lobby inside the Pantages Theater. (02/27/2008)
The grand lobby inside the Pantages Theater. (02/27/2008)

But we found new hope in February 2007 when an open-ended production of Wicked opened at Los Angeles' Pantages Theatre. We still planned to go with Lisa for a while, but after a couple of her co-workers invited themselves into the plan, things started getting a little too complicated (you try coordinating schedules with eight people). We ultimately bowed out of the group event and just decided to see it on our own.

Chandelier inside the Pantages Theater. (02/27/2008)
Chandelier inside the Pantages Theater. (02/27/2008)

Well months passed by until I started dropping hints for Tim that a great Christmas present would be tickets to Wicked. So when I saw that my Christmas present came in an envelope instead of a box, I had a feeling I knew what was inside. But I was shocked to find that Tim had somehow gotten his hand on fifth row seats! That was a huge surprise.

Katie Webber's headshot from American Idol season 3.
Katie Webber's headshot from American Idol season 3.

One interesting side note. Our friend Tom's stepmom Wendy worked with with the sister of Katie Webber, who in 2004, made it to the Top 32 of the 3rd season of American Idol (and was previously on the WB reality show Popstars). Today Katie is a cast member of the Broadway production of Wicked.


Ryan Seacrest and Katie Webber on American Idol in 2004.
Ryan Seacrest and Katie Webber on American Idol in 2004.

For Christmas last year, Tom and Christine used those connections to get me an autographed copy of the Wicked CD — autographed by an actual cast member of the show! Consindering that I watch American Idol like a stalker (and did the same thing with Popstars), I was impressed!

The Katie Webber autographed Wicked CD I got for Christmas.
The Katie Webber autographed Wicked CD I got for Christmas.

The show itself was amazing. And so were our fifth row seats! We laughed. We cried. And during certain moments, like the end of "Defying Gravity," we were on the edge of our seats. We particularly enjoyed Megan Hilty as Glinda who really stole the show. Caissie Levy as Elphaba was also great. We were also pleasantly surprised to see Jo Anne Worley, from Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, in the role of Madame Morrible.

It was a great night at the theatre. (02/27/2008)
It was a great night at the theatre. (02/27/2008)

I'd recommend Wicked to anyone. And if you want to see it in Los Angeles, you better start planning it now, because from what I understand, it's scheduled to close in January 2009. But a second North American tour, as well as a San Francisco production, begin in early 2009, so be on the lookout!

3 comments:

beastandbean said...

Hooray, a new blog post!!!

I am so jealous...we have both been dying to see WICKED for a while, but now that I have the CD and have been listening to it non-stop, I am seriously drooling at the prospect of seeing it very soon!

Great pics of the theatre too! And wow, what nice friends you have to organize a transcontinental Christmas gift like that for you! They must really love you... :)

beastandbean said...

Oops, I meant to say bicoastal not transcontinental. But either way, your friends Tom and Christine sound amazing! :0

James said...

yeah, they're OK i guess. :)