Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The ‘Wickedest’ Night There Ever Was

A chance to tick off an item in your bucket list is guaranteed to transform one ordinary day into a string of spectacular moments. That’s pretty much what I and my other Oz-sessed friends felt about February 16, as it ended our almost seven-year wait to see the megamusical Wicked.

We didn’t book a flight to New York (or get a tornado ride that requires witch casualties as unofficial entrance and exit fees), but having the Cultural Center of the Philippines as the musical’s home here didn’t diminish the magic of that night. Those couple of hours still proved that over-the-rainbow dreams of Kansas farm girls aren’t the only ones that come true. :)

Wicked Airiz Almost didn’t want to click my heels thrice after the musical.
Photo by Kit Andaya

One short night in the Emerald City

As [semi-broke] students in 2007, we could only hitch “free rides” to Oz via torrents and YouTube. We were okay with bootlegs; it was through them that we got our first glimpse of the musical adaptation of Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. We busied ourselves knowing the songs, checking out the source materials, and admiring the beauty of Broadway productions in general.

The original Broadway cast performing “One Short Day”

I think the main reason I love Wicked is that I’m nuts about retellings and revisionist takes on classics. There are major flops in the genre now, but my pop culture meter is saying bedtime story revisionism is still the new black: we’ve got a Cinderella sci-fi’ed into a foot-less cyborg, an Alice who slaughtered a Wonderland behemoth, and even a Sleeping Beauty in a BDSM camp (I’m serious! Look up Anne Rice’s SB trilogy).

And then there’s Wicked. It reveals the “untold” story of the Witch of the West from L. F. Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, through Gregory Maguire’s revisionist Wicked Years series. The tale comes to life onstage with the  music and lyrics of Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman. We have always dreamed to see Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth play Elphaba and Glinda respectively, but I have to say Jemma Rix’s and Suzie Mathers’ performances were also nothing short of sterling.

 Wicked Popular 
Jemma Rix (Elphaba)  and Suzie Mathers (Glinda) in “Popular”
Photo courtesy of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions

Fiyero-WICKED Steve Danielsen (Fiyero) in “Dancing Through Life”.  Photo by Chriselle Fajardo.

We were reduced to gushes, goose bumps, and guffaws the moment the show started. The main twosome was great, but they weren’t the only ones that shone. Jay Laga’aia was spot-on as the Wizard as he was able to show both the character’s insatiable desire for power and paternal soul. The talented (and really cute!) Steve Danielsen also gave a first-rate portrayal of the charming rogue Fiyero, proving that he’s indeed a stage force to be reckoned with.

Even if we know  every lyric in the musical by heart, we didn’t sing along with all the songs. In particular, I kept quiet when Rix belted out the powerful “Defying Gravity” and “No Good Deed”, when the  lead twosome cast their spells on their own renditions of “I’m Not that Girl”, and when they eased into the bittersweet “For Good”. I’ve listened to these songs and pretended I’m part of the production countless times in the past. When I had the real thing in front of me, I decided to relish every unadulterated moment of it.

It was during “For Good” that we, along with a few others in the audience, shed tears.  We couldn’t help it—the song was suspended between being so sweet and so sad that all our hearts could do is cave in.

Staying calm and steady seemed to be impossible in our seats. We’re a stew of emotions then, and we could still feel the indescribable level of happiness we were wrapped in even after the curtains have closed (Danielsen was bloody adorable during that part by the way, waving nonstop at the audience while chasing the shrinking space beneath the lowering curtains). In the end, we gave the musical the roaring applause and standing ovation it deserved.

Like a handprint on our hearts

We lingered around CCP to bask in that post-theatre bliss. We took photos, raved, sang our favorite parts, and basically just talked about how incredible that night was. We could’ve stayed out and fangirl’d about it the whole night, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s Monday the day after and we have to go back to our respective jobs.


But before we went home, we got magnetized by the pocket-draining albeit amazing merchandise area just outside the theatre. Props to the team, even the wooden stalls there were carved with cogwheel drawings that hint of the Clock of the Time Dragon in the musical!

With our original plans to buy the playbills all but discarded (I mean come on, somewhere out there they don’t sell these at 500 bucks), we went to the merch stalls to buy some posters. Well, what can I say? We were so weak against temptations and ended up a few bucks lighter than we planned, going home with posters and mugs!

The best thing about it is it’s worth it. It would’ve meant a lot, though, if we were able to get the posters signed. Someday, someday…

Wicked Merch Wicked Merch. Photo by Chriselle Fajardo.

Wicked MUGMy new favorite mug. :)

Going home that night was almost a pain; the three of us wanted to prolong the happiness we were experiencing as long as we could. But alas, sometimes our Cinderella time bomb runs out of seconds and we have to resurface to our realities. Be that as it may, as we go back there bringing a new chunk of a dream come true. That’s enough for the moment.

Next time, we’ll going to watch this thing in Broadway. :)

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