Broadway: 23 – 25 February 2006
(Wicked, Rent and Beauty and the Beast)

Wicked
After a long wait I finally saw Wicked and what a fab show with, great music and a wonderful take on the classic Oz story. It starts and ends with the ‘death’ of the wicked witch but in the interim the show tells the story of how the good and wicked witches met and how the wicked witch ended up as she did.

Eden Espinosa was excellent as Elphaba, she developed the character nicely from the college girl to the witch we all know. She sand a very strong ‘Wizard and I’ and made a believable change to the unintentional wicked witch. Megan Sikora was also excellent as the very cooky and bright G(a)linda. Her style was very much as the original Glinda but the role can only really be played one way.

Derrick Williams was very good as Fiyero and seemed to grow in role throughout the show and developed nicely into a good relationship with Elphaba in the second act, when Fiyero cease to be less shallow than he originally came over.

Ben Vereen didn’t overly impress as the Wizard. His singing was not smooth and seemed a little stilted. The warmness and charm of wizard didn’t come across. Carol Kane as Madame Morrible was, but was a little too thin on the character, the wickedness of Morrible didn’t come through as strong as should have done

Cristy Candler’s nessa was nicely played and brought out the real ‘wicked witch’ in her character in that it was she and not Elphaha who had no heart. Rob Sapp was very sweet as poor Boq, forever wishing to be with Glinda yet constantly ignored. Seemingly sweet but underneath he turns out to be the shallow character as he leads Nessa Rose along. Very well characterised and played

The one detraction form the show was the theatre. It felt like a conference centre which slightly detached the audience from the performance. The sound balance was poor as what should have filled the theatre sounded slightly thin.

The ensemble worked very hard and strong support from some of the featured parts – Sean McCourt as Dr Dillamond and Philip Spaeth as the chief monkey Chistery. The emerald city costumes are striking and wonderfully slightly off beat. Glinda was always immaculate and the image of the good and perfect witch yet in Elphaba’s final costume the blackness was lifted with the slight red hints.

It is a great show, visually and musically and role on London


Rent
It was good to see Rent in it’s original home and original production. The current cast has a great energy and brings both strength and poignancy to the story. Matt Caplan’s Mark has a slight smugness to him, Tim Howar is a very intense and disturbed Roger, he was very good at bringing over the turmoil of Roger. Antonique Smith again was excellent as Mimi especially during ‘Goodbye Love’ Her chemistry with Roger was very believable.

Mark Richard Ford was a very strong and had a great warmth and humanity as Tom Collins, being the one person who holds the group together

As a show I personally do not like the end of act one section from Maureen’s ‘Over the Moon’ and la Vie Boheme. Over the Moon seemed to be obviously humorous to some but it is one song I wish to pass quickly !.

The show did have a feel of a little self indulgence at times and the diction of some of the songs, especially when there is a number of people singing was not always clear. Overall a very enjoyable experience


Beauty and the Beast
Seeing Beauty and the Beast on Broadway adds something extra to the show. The whole show had a great energy and charm and unlike the British version had the right amount of comedy and slapstick without tipping over into pantomime. This kept Beast and Belle as real within an enchanted world

Steve Blanchard’s Beast was pitched near enough perfectly bringing over the anger and sadness to the character and at the same time the child within the beast who hasn’t really got a clue as to what to do to win Belle’s love. Small gestures and reactions make a performance a lot more believable and Steve’s Beast was very human in that respect.

Ashley Brown was a lovely Belle, strong and charming. There was a great chemistry between her and Steve’s Beast and this culminated with an intense moment at the end of the song beauty and the Beast where Belle had at last seen behind the Beast and had realised she loved him. Other nice moments were the sections in the library and when Beast rescued Belle form the wolves

Ashley’s ‘Change in Me’ and Steve’s ‘If I can’t love her’ were both performed with great passion and emotion.

Grant Norman was the suitably vain and bullish Gaston, who was well complimented by Mark Price as his sidekick Lefou. And the household implements – Jeff Brooks (Cogsowrth, Peter Flynn (Lumiere) and Jeanne Lehman (Mrs Potts), Mary Stout (Madame La Grande Bouche) provided excellent support.

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