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Wicked... NYC vs. Chicago vs. Tour

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AberJ01
Understudy
joined:6/15/04
Understudy
joined:
6/15/04
Wicked... NYC vs. Chicago vs. Tour#0
Posted: 1/21/06 at 3:44pm
Well, last week I finally saw the Chicago production of Wicked. which is kind of funny since I live in Chicago. I went to New York to see Wicked quite some time ago, and St. Louis to see the tour, but never took the time to see it in my own hometown. Anyway, it got me thinking about comparisons in the shows. Was there differences? Was one cast better than the other? Are certain actors really better at other roles than others? I know alot of people have started alot of "who's your favorite elphaba"...and so on...but here are my thoughts...

Ensembles- The first time I saw Wicked was in New York, and it was Idina's last week in the show. The first thing that let me down about the show was the ensemble. For some reason I felt like they struggled. As a whole they had a bad night vocally. After reading the playbill it sounded like a lot of new people had just joined the ensemble, so I blamed it on that. Both the ensembles of Chicago and the Tour casts were both exceptional, with the tour's maybe being a little bit better, but then again they've been doing it longer I suppose.

Boq- Now this is the role I'm dreaming to play, so maybe I'm harsh, but I didn't really love any of the Boq's. First off I saw Rob Sapp, who was understudying the role, but is now playing the role full time. He just wasn't anything to remember really. Acting wise he really didn't do ANYTHING with the character, and really didn't have a dorky factor at all to him. Singing wise he had a REALLY bad night, I felt bad. The Chicago Boq, Telly Leung, I enjoyed. He was good, and that's saying alot. Now the tour Boq, Logan Lipton, I really remembered afterwards. Great voice, great presence, a little too awkward and dorky and certain parts, but definitely the best of them by far.

Nessarose- Not really a role I'd think I'd leave the theater loving, but Jenna Leigh Green owned this role. Michelle Federer was good, and Heidi Kettenring wasn't anything to remember, but Jenna just won me over from the start. Plus her voice was simply outstanding.

The Wizard- Surprisingly another role I don't remember much of. In New York I saw George Hearn. I remember liking him, but that's about it. The tour's David Garrison was better than I thought he'd be. I enjoyed his interpretation alot, and his voice somewhat. The Chicago Wizard was fantastic though. Gene Weygandt was wonderful, literally haha. Great voice, I really liked him. Can't wait to go see Ben Vereen though. Haven't heard much about him, but he's an idol of mine. I mean come on, we're talking the Leading Player here, lol.

Morrible- Ok, hands down, Carole Shelley from the NY cast was brillant. LOVED her. Carol Kane was the tour, I liked. I love her in general, but in Wicked I don't know. She was a better singer than I imagined her to be, but to me she didn't have the stern characterzation I associate with Madamme Morrible. Still adored her though. Rondi Reed, not so much. As the Chicago's Morrible, she was good, but she ended up not winning me over. Her voice is very deep, which worked well for her showing authority, but as far as her singing, it didn't work for me. I told my friends, I liked her while she was talking, while she was singing I hated her, if that makes sense.

Fiyero- Out of the three Fiyero's I saw, I ended up loving the one I thought I'd like the least the most. Going to New York I thought I'd love Joey McIntyre. I was wrong. Now don't get me wrong, he's a VERY good looking guy. Alot better looking than what I remember from New Kids on the Block, but for me it didn't work. I had heard a lot of good things about him, but he ended up being the letdown of the show for us. Dancing Thru Life was a MESS, but like some of others I just figured it was a bad night, because others have said that song was amazing by him. On the bright side, he wasn't as bad as the Chicago Fiyero, who was his understudy in New York. There really isn't a positive thing I can say about Kristoffer Cusick, who was his understudy in New York, plus personally I think he looked a little old, but maybe that's just me. Derrick Williams on the other hand I thought was great. Vocally he brought something new to the role, which I really liked. Plus I really felt him, and his connection to Elphaba. It was wonderful.

G(a)linda- In all fairness I never did get to catch Kristin Chenoweth play the role, and as much as I hate to say it, I'm sure I would have loved her, and she probably would have been my favorite, but I got to go with what I've seen. Each had something I liked. Voice alone I'd go with Jennifer Laura Thompson, who in the end was my favorite overall. She was the "complete package". I especially loved the improv she did during Popular. I think it was because Idina's last week, but she had the audience (and Idina) uncontrollably laughing. Kendra Kessebaum, the tour's Glinda, was a gem. She was a true blonde. Great voice, and wonderful characterzation. Her expressions during Popular were incredible. You couldn't help but love her. She made you laugh constantly throughout the whole show and I loved that. The Chicago Glinda, Kate Reinders, who I didn't really like as much as the other two also had her good moments. Vocally she wasn't as strong, but acting wise she was good. Overall I believed her shallow ways the most. She came across like the girl everyone knew in high school/college, beautiful and wrapped in herself. It worked. In my opinion though, she ran over some of her lines which made the audience miss some jokes, and there were times where you thought to yourself "how much caffiene did this woman have before the show!". Don't get me wrong, sometimes it worked, sometimes it was too over the top.

Elphaba- Well the moment of truth, the comparisons of the "originals". The orignal Elphaba ever really, the orignal Elphaba who opened it on Broadway, and the orignal Chicago Elphaba. Idina vs. Stephanie vs. Ana. Well here goes. Once again, each brought something different to the table. I am one of the biggest Idina Menzel fans you will find, and I have to say vocally Idina brought it, I mean REALLY brought it. Her acting, I thought was lazy though. I've read people say she got lazy towards the end of her run, and I have a feeling that's what happened. Don't get me wrong, her voice was some of the best stuff I've heard live, but she didn't really make me feel much. Still was very very impressed, and could see why she won the Tony. Ana from Chicago was ALOT better than I'd expected. Given her SNL roots, I wasn't sure what to expect. Her track on the Hair CD isn't amazing either. Her voice during Wicked was incredible though. I felt in parts like she was rushing through songs to get to the big moments, but in her defense, she never missed a big moment or note. She really got them. You could tell she wasn't the most trained singer, but she could really really sing. Acting wise, she wasn't my favorite either, but with her I really felt a connection between her and Glinda. She made me feel the worst at the end because she really made me believe their friendship, I loved that. Now... here it comes. Going into the theater in St. Louis to see the tour of Wicked, I wasn't sure what to expect. I was so impressed with Idina, and didn't want anyone to ruin that. From the moment Stephanie Block stepped foot on the stage however, I just fell in love. As she said her first line, I could tell she was going to be brillant. She is by far my favorite Elphaba I've seen, and literally gave the best performance I've ever seen by a female on stage. She made you feel so much for her, and her voice literally was flawless, she didn't miss a single note, and for me I felt like she made the songs a little more challenging than Idina. Don't get me wrong I LOVE Idina Menzel, but Stephanie literally blew me away. I will never forget her performance, and I really hope she goes far. Very soon, I'll be catching Eden's take on Elphaba, which I'm VERY excited for. I saw her in BKLYN the same Wicked I saw Idina in Wicked, and I must saw, Eden singing "Once Upon a Time" in BKLYN was BY FAR the single best vocal performance I've ever heard live by a singer. If her Defying Gravity or No Good Deed is anything like that, I'll probably cry, lol.

Well that's my super long review. I know everyeone is probably so sick of Wicked talk, but it's my thoughts. Reply if you'd like, especially anyone who has seen all three casts.
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liotte
Broadway Legend
joined:7/20/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
7/20/04
re: Wicked... NYC vs. Chicago vs. Tour#1
Posted: 1/21/06 at 4:50pm
I've seen all 3 productions- tour, chicago, and NYC- and seen all the understudies and standbys and originals and replacements that have been in the show.

Thanks for your reviews, nice to hear new perspectives and comparisons of the show from around the country.