Friday, September 28, 2007

Wickedly Wonderful

It seems my lovely wife Christine and I have been going to the theater a lot of late. Herewith my report...

Six weeks ago, we attended the season opener of Reprise!, a musical series of which I have spoken often here in the past. This season opened with On Your Toes, one of the lesser efforts by Rodgers and Hart, memorable only for the song There's a Small Hotel and for the mini-ballet Slaughter on 10th Avenue. Still, the Reprise! production was as charming as possible under the circumstances, with a wholly competent company led by Stephanie Powers (of Hart to Hart fame) and Dan Butler (Bulldog on Frasier). We had a fine old time and look forward to the revisionist Reprise! production of the legendary Damn Yankees this November. I'll fill you all in once we've seen it.

Three weeks ago, Christine and I and our dear friend Gillian Horvath went to see the Actors Equity special one night performance of William Finn's wonderful Falsettos, with Malcolm Gets (of Caroline in the City), Vicki Lewis (of Newsradio), and Seinfeld's Jason Alexander (now creative director of the aforementioned Reprise!) leading a talented cast. Although the performers were still on book for much of the production, we found the show to be funny, charming, and ultimately touchingly heartbreaking. Well worth our time.

Last week, Chris and I went to see the road company of Lerner and Loewe's classic Camelot at UCLA's Royce Hall. Lou Diamond Phillips has just stepped into the role of King Arthur, previously played on the road by the great Michael York, and while Phillips doesn't necessarily have the greatest voice in the world, he is certainly the best singer I have ever seen in the role. Christine was thrilled to finally see a show where she knew all the music. While the sets were clearly scaled down slightly for the road, the show remains one of the classics, and the cast was easily up to the task. If Camelot comes to your neck of the woods, it's an evening well worth your time.

Last night, however, was one of the best nights I have spent in the theater in many a moon, as Chris and I and our friend Emily Mayne went to the Pantages Theater to see Wicked! In a word, WOW! Now this is what a Broadway musical is supposed to be. The sets are spectacular. The songs are singable. The story is inventive, compelling, funny, and touching. And the performers bring the house down. The current production stars Eden Espinosa as Elphaba and Megan Hilty as Glinda, both of whom have performed the roles in the Broadway company, with the always-wonderful Carol Kane as Madame Morrible and the charming John Rubenstein as the Wizard. We laughed. We cried. We were heartbroken that it had to end. Christine, who is usually one of the toughest critics I know, absolutely loved the show, which should tell you a whole lot right there. Wicked will be playing in LA at least through next March. We absolutely intend to go see it at least once more. I strongly recommend you do the same. This show gets a resounding five claws up.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

The Friends of the Albany (NY) Public Library had Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked, speak at a gathering a couple years ago. It was a great experience.