Why the spastic Glindas?

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Why the spastic Glindas?#1
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:06am
So, I was just creeping around on the site that shall not be named, where you can catch Popular sung by practically every actress and understudy ever to play Glinda. Having seen the original cast with Kristen Chenoweth, I have to wonder, why do all these post-Cheno girls hop around the stage like banshees, make cartoon-like sound effects and butcher the song. I know that during Defying Gravity, there is a tendency to er...scream the song, but I never imagined we'd get to the point where Popular would be screamed at us. Why all the spastic-ness? Is no one else as good an actress as Chenoweth? Is the material that week (don't think so, it's the best song in the score)?
Just wondering if anyone else has noticed this.
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#2
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:11am
I thought Chenoweth did her share of hopping around and making "cartoon-like" sound effects. It makes the song funny, in my opinion.
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#2
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:15am
I agree actinggbugg. The segment on Today was enough to make me glad I saw it after Cheno.
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#3
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:20am
I think that Megan Hilty was 10 times better than Cheno entertainment-wise, but Kristen sang it better.
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#4
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:23am
Chenoweth may have been the original Glinda, but many (not all) of her replacements idicate that she was not necessarily the best.

Chenoweth was too calm and far too mature in her portrayal. Popular should be spastic...it makes the song far more entertaining.
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#5
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:24am
I have to agree with the original poster. When the tour 1st came through Denver I think it was Kendra Kassbaum. I saw her on the Tonight Show and then live when the show hit Denver. She was a bit annoying. She reminded me of this little girl that lived across the street from me when I was a kid who wasn't supposed to have too much sugar because it made her super hyper. I saw the original cast on Broadway and Cheno was much better. Not as jittery!
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#6
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:24am
I agree with Phantom. That song is supposed to just exude youthful energy. She's a schoolgirl .. she's supposed to act like one!
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#7
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:28am
What I'm getting at here, is that if you are able to ...ahem..."see" Chenoweth, followed by any other actress in the role, you will see that her acting is much more subtle and yet, gets much bigger laughs from the audience. I was actually embarrassed for a few of the ladies. It was obvious they were one step away from pulling out the fire batons in order to get laughs.
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#8
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:34am
No, what you're getting here is that not everyone worships at the altar of the Cheno.
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#9
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:39am
Don't get snippy.
This is not intended to be pro-Chenoweth.
I'm simply saying that a lot of the more recent actresses have had to overact to get the same number of laughs.
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#10
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:41am
Well it's not as if they are butchering part of some great Tony Award winning score. It's "Popular" for goodness sake! Sung at talent shows by tweens and teens around the word. Why not have some fun with it?

I also respecfully disagree with the OP, who mentioned that 'Popular' was the best song in the score. If that was the case, then I would certainly say the score was weak. Quite frankly, I think "I'm Not That Girl" is the only song that is strong enough to stand on it's own (i.e. to be sung out of context). "As Long As You're Mine" is right on it's heels. I can totally "see" both of those songs being played on the radio. Can you imagine a pop-princess doing a remake of "Popular"? Where would they run it? Radio Disney?

Quite frankly I liked the Karen Walker/Shirley Temple/Judy Holiday thing Kendra had going on. Don't get me started on how much I laughed at the Megan Hilty version. And like other's said, she's a teenage school girl. Not a 34 year old character from Sex in the City.


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Updated On: 8/7/07 at 11:41 AM
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#11
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:41am
Precisely, jordan. While I do believe she is a good actress, she did not transition well with the different maturity levels the character goes through. To sum up...she may have workshopped the role, but she wasn't necessarily right for it. Why else would the character be taken into a totally different direction by ALL replacements?

An example of how the character can be played to near perfection can currently be seen on tour.
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Updated On: 8/7/07 at 11:41 AM
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#12
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:41am
I personally liked Jennifer Laura Thompson as Glinda but Chenoweth is a very close second. I don't think the Ga-Linda's are spastic, they are suppose to be bubbly and it really gets the crowd laughing so whats the big deal?
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#13
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:42am
I liked Cheno's Popular. And I liked her performance overall. Kassbaum was just spastic most of the time. By the end of the show, I had a hard time believing she had been "changed for good". She did get most of the laughs that Glinda gets, but she just seemed forced. I don't worship at the alter of Cheno, but I do put money in the offering basket!
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#14
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:46am
I never thought I'd say this about anything Kristin Chenoweth has done, but she IS more subtle than much of her followers in this role, save Jennifer Laura Thompson (who, at least going by who I've seen, was by far the best in the role). I'm really not a fan of Kristin's--I tend to find that she's really more of a gimmick-y performer and a ham than an actress, but at least her antics were rooted in something a little more genuine. It seems like a few others are really going crazy just for laughs. Usually it's due to a lack of trust in the audience's reactions; maybe they don't trust the material, maybe they don't trust themselves to deliver it in such a way that will make the audience laugh unless they make it blatantly obvious how hard they're trying to.

I don't think it matters how "spastic" the character is as long as it IS a character choice, not just a gimmick.
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Updated On: 8/7/07 at 11:46 AM
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#15
Posted: 8/7/07 at 11:51am
Try not to judge an actor's portrayal based on ONE song from a bootleg.

I saw Chenoweth and while I thought she was very good, Hilty kicked her interpretation's ass. Hilty managed to LOOK like a college student, ACT like a college student and still mature into the iconic Glinda we all know.
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#16
Posted: 8/7/07 at 12:02pm
I get both points being expressed here.

The original poster is right in that many of the actresses to play Glinda since the show opened have pulled out all the stops (some unnecessarily) to get laughs that Chenoweth was able to obtain by being much more subtle and contained.

I do agree also, however, with the other posters who say that the more "spastic" and slapstick interpretations of the number are in no way untrue to the character. Glinda is supposed to be a bubbly school girl, and should be played as such.

The problem alot of the women who play the role these days have is that they're able to get the laughs by going all out in the quirk department, but most of them don't bring any sort of stolidness to Glinda as the character grows into her maturiy in the latter parts of the show (a problem uncageg seemed to have with Kendra Kassebaum, who I myself found to be absolutely terrific.)

Personally, I find Jennifer Laura Thompson to be the strongest person they've ever had play the role. She was able to be composed enough to be believable as the mature Glinda but funny and quirky enough to make the character's younger years and accompanying material (including "Popular") alot of fun.

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Updated On: 8/7/07 at 12:02 PM
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#17
Posted: 8/7/07 at 12:03pm
glinda a bit of a ridiculous character, in my opinion
haven't seen the musical yet, but i've read both books and the way you describe the glindas singing the song seems about right re: Why the spastic Glindas?
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#18
Posted: 8/7/07 at 12:04pm
Yeah....I guess "Popular" is a very "week" song, Princeton.
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#19
Posted: 8/7/07 at 12:07pm
"glinda a bit of a ridiculous character, in my opinion "

The word "is," is your friend.

"Yeah....I guess "Popular" is a very "week" song, Princeton."

Yeah, I guess "weak" is a very hard word to use correctly Theatrekid10115.

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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#20
Posted: 8/7/07 at 12:09pm
I couldn't help myself....it's the music and I'm its hapless victim!

EDIT: OK, it still says "week" in your original post instead of "weak."

How's that for lack of subtlety?
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Updated On: 8/7/07 at 12:09 PM
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#21
Posted: 8/7/07 at 12:16pm
Hilty was A LOT better than Chenoweth.
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#22
Posted: 8/7/07 at 12:41pm
I completely agree with WickedGeek28... Hilty was absolutely incredible in the role. It wasn't her "over the top-ness" that I was laughing at, it was her subtletees.

However, after seeing the show in different incarnations seven times, I do have to say that the Glinda's do get spastic. The woman who's understudying the role in Chicago right now (her name escapes me) played the ENTIRE show like she was on speed. Making her eyes really big the whole time and everything. It really bothered me. (It was not her first time in the role either.)

But I have seen seven different Glinda's and Hilty's was the best by a mile in my opinion.
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#23
Posted: 8/7/07 at 12:48pm
I'm going to see Wicked for the first time tomorrow, and I REALLY wish I was seeing Megan Hilty. Unfortunately, flying to LA is not an option. So I'm stuck with Kendra. Anyway Popular's my second-favorite number and I really hope she does it justice!
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re: Why the spastic Glindas?#24
Posted: 8/7/07 at 12:57pm
While I thought Kendra was hilarious in the role, she was barely intelligible during "Popular" due to all the bouncing around. Fortunately, I knew the song so it didn't really matter, but for the uninitiated who are seeing/hearing the show for the first time, you'd be hard pressed to understand a word she's saying for most of it.

I thought she displayed a nice transition to maturity during "Thank Goodness" (her belt on the last "I couldn't be happier" gave me goosebumps!).
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