So clearly I’m not in the fantasy football league game and all that, so this is my stagey version of that I guess. So when you’ve seen the same show as many times as I have you come to discover the beauty of live performance, in that every actor and actresses are different in their… Continue reading Dream Casting: Wicked in the West End
Self-indulgence? Haven’t heard of it. So I thought I might like to write about my favourite musical theatre roles that I would love to play on-stage. Male only although I might do a female one too, because why can I not thrust a broom in a make-believe world if I want to, right? Anyway, for structuring each section here I thought I would pick one song that that character performs to illustrate and support why I would love to do them. But first, honourable mentions: Jean Valjean (Les Miserables), Javert (Les Miserables), The Phantom (The Phantom of the Opera), Clyde (Bonnie and Clyde), Elder Cunningham (The Book of Mormon), King George III (Hamilton), amongst others.
Edit: I thought I would now bump it up to 7 only because I forgot my actual top dream role, ironically.
7. “Nicely Nicely Johnson” in Guys and Dolls
This character is just great fun. I was first introduced to him not so long ago in 2016 when I saw the latest West End revival. I love this show and how “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat” was performed in this production was an energetic show-stopping masterpiece. Gavin Spokes was incredible:
6. “Fiyero” in Wicked
It would be impossible to turn down any role in my favourite show let alone the romantic male lead. Fiyero is a great character with a depth to him that not many people find unless you know the show very well. And he has great songs. “As Long As You’re Mine” is my favourite love song and it is very hard to match what Oliver Tompsett and his vocals brought to the role. Here is Tompsett with my ultimate Elphaba and Frozen‘s Broadway Elsa, Caissie Levy:
5. “Jamie Wellerstein” in The Last Five Years
Jason Robert Brown is such a musical and lyric genius, and in one of my favourite works The Last Five Years, the characters of Cathy and Jamie are though out so skilfully through the unique structure of this piece. For my favourite song of this character I went with “If I Didn’t Believe in You”. The lyrics and structure of this song, what it makes you go through with these characters is just so clever and powerful. Jeremy Jordan’s version in the film is to die for:
4. “Dan Goodman” in Next to Normal
The highly emotional show is one of my favourites too. It’s perfect, and the role of Dan is a must; there is such a lot to do with him. “I’ve Been” is such a haunting composition, just the opening chords get me every time and lyrics such as “mine is just a slower suicide” are so resonant and powerful in summarising the show and the character’s journey at this moment – not to mention the rest of the score is just as perfect. It is an emotionally taxing role, but it would be such a great challenge:
3. “Shrek” in Shrek the Musical
This show is in my top 2 musicals of all-time. It was one of the first shows I became obsessed with and means an awful lot to me; at that time, I related so much to this strong character that feels like an outsider and is judged by his appearance. It’s still so resonant, and this show, much like the film, is fun but also has that incredible message. And the songs are to die for – “Who I’d Be” remains one of my favourite songs and to perform that every night would be the dream if I wouldn’t be able to kill it like Brian d’Arcy James:
2. “Mark Cohen” in Rent
Because why would you pass up the idea of being in Rent? For me personally, I think Rent is the best thing ever written for the stage for so many reasons. Mainly because it makes me feel something I’ve never felt with anything else. It taps into me emotionally on so many levels. The orchestrations and vocals arrangement in “Halloween” inspire me to want to play this role so much. It’s a perfect composition, encapsulating character and subtle emotion but with huge gravitas:
1. “Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Edward Hyde” in Jekyll & Hyde
To be able to sing this score every night would be the dream! I love this show so much. The Broadway production was of course not the best version of the show that Frank Wildhorn had envisioned, but other productions have done the material justice. My favourite album is the full Concept Album that was made in 1989 or thereabouts. It’s masterful and my favourite musical score, you can tell it was Frank’s passion project. “The Confrontation” is the accumulation of this multi-layered character’s story, the writing and staging of this song is unlike anything else. The role challenges you from a vocal and an acting perspective that it requires a real pro:
How could I choose which 5 moments I love the most when you love the show from start to finish? Indecisively, that’s how. My favourite moments probably do and will continue to change, but I think the following list is the current general feeling I have. And I couldn’t fit everything I love in, so, some honourable mentions: Dancing through Life (Fiyero’s Arrival), As Long As You’re Mine, Thank Goodness, Governor’s Mansion (Wicked Witch of the East), The Wizard and I.
5. For Good
The accumulation of the journey we have been on with these two characters. The powerful statement of ‘because I knew you, I have been changed for good’ echoes widely, which is why this song is so successful out of context, and within the show. I particularly love this moment on a cast change in which the Elphaba, Glinda or even both are performing the song for the last time. The above lyric has more than one meaning in this circumstance, which makes it all the most poignant, and to see these amazing women get so emotional when they are leaving the show is a testament to how it affects people so strongly.
4. Dancing Through Life: Ballroom Sequence
From the end of a friendship to the beginning. A couple of moments still get me every time. The Nessarose/Boq supporting plot always breaks my heart (no pun intended); some performers who have played Nessarose have managed to hit me emotionally in the moment in which she feels loved and dances for the first time. Then in another kick to the gut, Elphaba arrives to the dance. The ensemble as the Students of Shiz are hilarious every time as they mock and tease her, and when Elphaba attempts to fit-in, it’s both hysterical and heart-breaking. But the scene soon changes mood when Glinda realises her mistake and joins in to dance with Elphaba. Just explaining it here does not do justice to how powerful that moment is on-stage. Many times I still find myself getting emotional because its such a poignant and relatable circumstance I feel begins the friendship of the two characters perfectly; the build-up of the Dancing through Life motif, and eventual reprise, compliments the scene so well.
3. The Finale
The most beautiful sequence in the show. I also look forward to seeing how a show ends – not because it’s ending of course – but you know that it is the scene that will finish the show and the imagery is the last you’ll see before the curtain comes down, so it needs to wow you. And luckily, Wicked has one of the best final scenes. The music (particularly those harmonies!), the strikingly emotional imagery as Glinda descends and Elphaba and Fiyero walk up-stage into their new life, and the link full-circle back to the beginning of the story. Everything about it still give me goosebumps even after so many times.
2. Catfight / No Good Deed
Without a doubt my favourite extended sequence of the show. From Dorothy’s house drop to the Witch Hunters rally, so much happens to the characters in this part of the show. Most fans consider the “Catfight” scene and No Good Deed one sequence, because it flows so perfectly. I always look forward to the “Catfight” scene – it’s my favourite fully spoken dialogue scene in the show because it showcases Elphaba and Glinda at this point in their story so effortlessly. Elphaba has turned into the ‘Wicked Witch’ we know from “The Wizard of Oz”, but here, we are still on her side. Glinda has been corrupted by the public figure image, so naturally, the two clash for the first time since before they became friends. Then we have No Good Deed – which is just the most incredible 11’o’clock number and possibly my favourite song in the show. It’s gritty, powerful, and services the character of Elphaba as she attempts to save Fiyero. It’s ridiculously good, and each Elphaba brings their own layers to the complex character which makes this equally a heart-breaking and exciting moment to experience.
1. Defying Gravity
An obviously choice? Probably. Oh, well. This scene is so powerful in multiple ways; it’s build-up from The Wizard’s chamber scene, to Madame Morrible’s speech and the eventual flying never fails to make my heart go three times faster experiencing it live. You experience Elphaba’s hope turn to torment when she discovers The Wizard’s plan and rebels against him; and the lyrics are relevant without the context of the show, yet work so perfectly inside it too – a factor all the best theatre songs have: they stand-alone, but you can’t have the show without them. Again, each Elphaba I’ve seen brings something different to the role and I’m always excited to experience how this is performed – a sure-fire showstopper! My favourite 100 seconds in theatre is the climax of this song, it’s without a doubt, my life.
In light of the very exciting announcement that this woman is slated to play Elsa in the upcoming Broadway adaptation of Disney’s Frozen, I thought I’d share my love for the insane talent that is Caissie Levy. The Broadway and West End star rose to centre stage through understudying Elphaba in Wicked on the Great… Continue reading Vocal Obsession: Caissie Levy
Saturday April 22, 2017 7:30PM @ Apollo Victoria Theatre, London Starring: Alice Fearn (standby), Suzie Mathers, Oliver Savile, Sue Kelvin, Mark Curry So how does one review a show on their 43rd visit of said show? By being stagey as hell that’s how! Just note, this isn’t a review of the show in general per… Continue reading Review: Wicked (London), Starring Alice Fearn
So this is an important list, right?! Ok so let’s get one thing straight, this was bloody hard! Considering I’m pretty much obsessed with every show I’ve seen or am aware of. But after a lot of hard thinking I’ve narrowed it down to my Top 15! Not to mention this order is rough, it may… Continue reading Updated: My Top 15 Musicals (So Far..)