I know what you’re thinking to yourself right now: What the hell, Loba? You’re flashing back to a Broadway actress/songstress who’s hardly older than you are and is still working regularly? Did you mix up the vodka and the water again this morning?
Let me ‘splain. I was going through my previous blog, looking for something else that I was going to post for today’s flashback when I stumbled across a post I wrote back in 2006. It was part of a series of posts I’d written about my spectacular 30th birthday trip to Dublin and London. In fact, I’ve already re-posted one entry from that series in a previous Flashback Friday.
[Loba Tangent: Don’t you sometimes feel like this series needs a recap voice-over? “Previously, on Flashback Friday…”]
Anyway, when I came across this post, I paused long enough to read it…and by the end, I was grinning like such a goofy fool that I decided I needed to re-post it today instead of doing the post that I had originally intended (don’t worry, denizens, I’m sure I will return to my original idea soon enough).
There are so many happy memories wrapped up in this post, memories both of this amazing performance and of the trip in general. How could there not be? I had already fallen truly, madly, deeply in love with London during a previous trip there; I was now courting a serious crush on Dublin; and to wrap it all up, I was sitting in a theatre (it’s mandatory to spell it this way in deference to the English, you know), getting ready to see Menzel reprise her role as Elphaba—one of those great “Broadway experiences I’ll never have” that I had already filed sadly at the top of my list near “Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford as Christine Daaé and the Phantom” and “Patti LuPone as Eva Perón.”
Yes. Yes, denizens. I’m a musical geek, too. Hell, the first “Poster Pick” entry that I did of a poster from my own collection was of the poster to Wicked! It is what it is. I hope you don’t love me any less.
Anyway, here then is my original 10.03.06 post, originally entitled “Flying Monkeys Edition.” First, though? This is a desktop wallpaper collage that I designed for the first iteration of the lair (back when it was much more than a blog…but also much less fun). This is a very early example of my burgeoning PhotoShop skillz, and I remember being very excited about the final result. There are a few things that I would fix or do differently, but actually, it’s still not that bad, is it? Oh, and if you’re so inclined, you can “click to embiggen” the image below (tip of the paw to Wil Wheaton for the embiggening quote).
I am completely remiss. In all my ramblings about Dublin and London, I have missed speaking of the climactic ending of the journey: second night previews for Wicked. I had seen this musical on Broadway in March of last year…front row seats that we won at that evening’s ticket lottery. That was to die for—my first Broadway show and everything. Shoshana Bean had taken over the role of Elphaba at that point and was doing a marvelous job. It’s a phenomenal musical and does the story beautiful justice regardless of the many turns away from the book it takes along its own yellow brick road. Still, there was that small kernel of sadness within me that I didn’t get the chance to see Idina Menzel as Elphaba.
Flash-forward to the curtain rising at the Apollo Victoria on September 8, 2006. The Time Dragon Clock above the proscenium awoke, smoke curling from its nostrils, red eyes flashing at the expectancy rising from the audience. It was amazing and so exciting to me that here was this primarily British audience packed to capacity, joyfully embracing this thoroughly American musical and its thoroughly American star. It was only second night of previews, and there wasn’t an empty seat to be seen.
Glinda arrived by bubble, Australian and perky (it was an interesting choice that they chose not to hide their accents from the audience a la the London version of Chicago; just emphasized American Elphaba’s differences even more). We all quickly fell into the cadence of the music and the words, the beauty of the sets and costumes.
Then the spark of green as she finally made her entrance, charging to the front of the stage in true Elphaba style…and the musical literally almost came to a stop to allow the thunderous wave of applause and cheers buoy this tiny green girl with the white stripe of a smile against emerald skin. Had Idina Menzel worried about whether the West End would welcome her as she had been welcomed on Broadway, there certainly could be no further doubt. The applause, the cheers, the laughter, and in the end, the tears were not in short supply at all that evening.
And, dear gods, that voice. Were I to take my CD and hook it up to the largest speakers I could find and crank “Defying Gravity” as loudly as it could go, that would only reach a fraction of the volume and richness of hearing her live. There was not one brick of that building that was not touched by her voice. And the moment when she was suspended high above the stage by both platform and vocals, singing my favorite song from the soundtrack…that was the moment most worth the price of admission. It was the front seat fluttering giddiness of an inverted coaster, squared. Yes, it truly was that spectacular.
Idina Menzel is only slated to play Elphaba long enough to welcome the Brits into this new Oz. By January, there will be a new Elphaba, but I predict that Wicked is going to be defying gravity for quite some time to come at the Apollo Victoria (ironically, the inside of this theatre is emerald green, with lots of Ozian type glasswork…very flattering).
And there you have it, snoggees. I have rectified my error, both in not seeing Ms. Menzel when she was actually on my side of the pond, and in not sharing with you all the experience. Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the special place in my heart reserved for musicals.