After a long and heartless winter, it is time for the flowering spring! In terms of blogging. Like, that was a metaphor: it's still February. Plus I have recently learned that there are no real distinctions between the seasons in San Francisco.
To my knowledge, I have in prior posts promised the following: answers to posted-via-the-comments-section questions, recounting of my debut, as well as Etai, Jody and Paul's, a link to a fellow cast member's blog, Elphaba understudying updates, thoughts on San Francisco, an espousal of the virtues of scented candles, general exuberance and/or irreverence. So, here I go....
Question and answer time!
Q: How does Elphaba's broom fly?
A: I don't want to ruin the magic, so let's just say it's really flying. Or it's on a string.
Q: When are you going on as Elphaba, Fel?
A: Because of WICKED rules, I can't publish this on a public site like a blog, but I've devised a way to let you know. When I have prior knowledge of an upcoming performance, I will post a link for you to email me, so I can tell you personally -- provided you (SCOUT'S HONOR) promise not to publish it on any other blogs. We'll see how that works out for now. I believe in honor, truth, beauty, human virtue, and the cleansing effects of watching A&E's "Hoarders."
Q: Are you really going to genuflect when you meet Eden Espinosa? Will some sort of sacrosanct music be playing?
A: No one has actually asked this question, but the answer is YES.
Q: So you haven't yet met her?!?!
A: No! Our schedules have not yet overlapped, but soon, my dearests, soon! She has just begun rehearsing and will be going on starting March 2.
Q: Why didn't I catch you at the stage door, boo?
A: I've actually been swung out of the show quite a bit to learn my Elphaba stuff (more on this later in the post), so if you don't see me come out, I may not have performed that night. But, in truth, sometimes I bust out pretty soon after bows. The deal with visiting at the stage door is that I would love to see you guys, but most of the time when I come out there's just, like, a wall of people and general silence and puzzlement from the folks waiting to meet Teal or Kendra or other distinguishable character types, so if you would like to say hello to me, please do give a loud and prominent "Holla, Felicia!" so I know not to duck away in ensemble-induced humility ("humility" in the humble sense, not in the embarrassment sense). You can also email me that day to remind me that you're coming to the show, so I can be sure to look for you.
Q: How awesome/terrifying is it doing "Popular" with Kendra Kassbaum? I read an interview with Julia Murney once in which she said "I never know what she is going to do".
A: I haven't yet rehearsed or performed with Kendra (and probably never will, until I go on as Elphaba, as understudies typically rehearse only with fellow understudies or standbys (what's the difference, you ask? Read it here, man!)), but I do know from watching that she definitely does change it up night to night -- though not in huge ways, just in her delivery and sometimes in her mannerisms. Which, in my opinion, is exciting rather than scary! It's one of the things I love about Kendra as a performer: she is very much in the moment.
Q: Hey, you're on the official WICKED website!
A: I know -- not a question, but still totally fun news! Thanks for letting me know, Daniel S!
Q: Patty Duke didn't make her last performances, do you know why?
A: Don't have any insider info, and obviously want to respect Ms. Duke's privacy. I just know she was feeling sick. She did send the cast her love, and actually gave each of us little parting gifts with personalized notes. She is an amazing woman!
Q: From Peggy: "Saw the show today. I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but... the idea is to NOT take out the lead like a bowling pin. Nice save on the Shiz entrance before fainting!!"
A: Bahahahaha! Debriefing: I run in and faint directly stage right of Teal at the top of "Dear Old Shiz" and one or two performances after my debut, my foot slipped on some of the gooey residue from Glinda's bubble machine in the opening (that stuff is slippery!), and I almost (repeat: ALMOST) fell into Teal. Yikes. But I saved it. Cuz I'm, like, profesh.
And that concludes this question and answer period. Hooray! Next: recapping of opening and first week.
Okay, so, imagine, if you will, playing dress-up in the most ornate costumes possible, along with 25 or so of the most talented people you've ever met, and then wandering into a fully-realized and developed Other World, where your every move is underscored by a swelling orchestra and surrounded by amazing, theatrical lighting. That, my friends, is what it's like being in WICKED. The first show was a whirlwind, and kind of trippy, particularly the Emerald City scenes when we're all wearing green glasses. Not only could I not recognize anyone else onstage, but it really messed with my depth perception. I have issues with this, as it is (you should have seen me during the single day I tried to be on the junior varsity basketball team), let alone when I'm wearing tinted specs.
I am proud to say that I didn't really mess up anything major or even minor that first time out. Interestingly, it was in subsequent shows that I found I had to get certain mistakes out of my system (Oh no! I didn't get my Wizomania ticket out of my bodice! Oh no! I forgot to change my makeup for Witch Hunters! Oh no! I almost knocked Elphaba over and ruined the entire show!). It's like each performance is a chance for one to get a sense of the range of things that could go wrong with his or her track. And once you've done it around fourteen times (as I have, at this point) you've more or less messed up all the things you could mess up. And now it's smooth sailing! It's still challenging, but now I feel like it's all so freaking fun because I have to worry less and less about forgetting what to do.
The one perpetual source of minor angst is my feeling like I could always, at any moment of any day, be working on Elphaba. And, the truth is, in my spare time this has been what I've been trying to do. Lines are more or less memorized. I've learned, at this point, the stage-y staging (meaning, minor dancing and big strokes of blocking) of all of my musical numbers. The two things that will continue to confound me (but which I shall overcome!) is: my need to fully flesh out a character that on the one hand adheres to the pre-established blocking but which is completely organic and real to me; my need to get Elphaba's vocal part into my voice so it's consistent and comfortable. For this, I have found a studio near where I live, and I plan to sing through the entire show (Elphaba's music, I mean) at least three times a week on my own. I also need to vocalize and do breath work everyday. The great news is our superfab conductor, Bryan Perry, is also a vocal coach, so working with him on Elphaba music means getting amazing tips on how to tame the beasts that are "Defying Gravity," "The Wizard and I," and "No Good Deed" (and, furthermore, developing the stamina to sing these within a narrative arc that also includes several other slightly less challenging, though no less important, songs). Sigh. But, no matter! I am up to the challenge. And one thing that will always be true is: no matter how challenging the work, rehearsing Elphaba is a FREAKING DREAM COME TRUE. I mean, come on! Up until mid-January the only place I ever sang WICKED was in the shower. Ya know.
Okay, what's next? Ah, yes: Etai, Jody, and Paul's debut-- and, also, since my last post: Libby Servais' (our new Glinda Standby) debut. For this I'm going to resort to a wash of uncreative, though genuine, praise: hooray, yay, yippee, everyone is great and talented! Huzzah it all went well!
Here is a link to Neka Zang's (Elphaba's Mother, Nessarose Understudy) super cool blog! She offers some deets on her various turns in WICKED, but it's also a bit more diversified in its content, and gives you some insights into her personal interests beyond the world of the theater. Coolness.
Thoughts on San Francisco: okay, going to save this for upcoming posts. Must keep SOME suspense, right?
Espousal of the virtues of scented candles: Dudes, I love scented candles. My favorite scents are vanilla and pumpkin.
What's to come next, blog-wise: Before-and-After photos and a descriptive recounting of my pimping out my dressing room station. Observe this Before photo, and imagine, if you can, Alexa Green's (whose station is to my right) temporary disdain for my slobbishness (that's right, I just invented a word, and that word is "slobbishness"):
Actually, looking at it now, it doesn't look so bad... but just WAIT until you see the After photos. You will marvel at how I have stricken a fine balance between organizational effectiveness and aesthetic perfection. Or you will just wonder why I take so many photos on my crappy camera phone. The answer is: I have a lot of time backstage in Act II after the ballroom cross and before Witch Hunters.
Okay, off to do some stuff. More soon! Flowering spring, yada yada.
This post was good for me, was it good for you,