Category Archives: Theater

A Wicked Review: 6 Degrees of Donnie Wahlberg

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to see the travelling Broadway production of Wicked. Many of you have sent texts or tweets inquiring as to how the evening went. It all started with a photo shoot…

This is our “we’re normal, we’re adorable, look how pretty we are” shot.
This is our “we’re giddy, we’re overly-excited,
OMG we’re going to see Wicked” shot.


…followed by our prompt arrival at the theater. As in, we pulled into our parking space at 5:45. They didn’t open the doors to the event until 6:45. And the show didn’t start until 7:30. We were the FIRST ones there. Seriously. I’m not joking. Even the parking attendant was amused at our punctuality.



And so, Tina and I stood outside of the theater for over an hour, noses pressed to the glass, peering inside to “see what we could see.” We were thrilled to see tables of Playbills nearest to our door. We squealed with glee when we saw the swag table, decked out in t-shirts and coffee mugs and track jackets, all in varying shades of green.


And when the ushers began to appear, all wearing Elphaba-green bow-ties? Well, we may have joined hands and jumped up and down. Maybe.


When they finally opened the doors to the theater, Tina was the FIRST person inside. We enjoyed frosty beverages (daiquiris–both banana and strawberry.) We tried our best to seem nonchalant as we casually browsed the wares for sale. I noticed a large book on one of the tables and realized (with some enthusiasm) that it was the Grimmerie. (For those not familiar with the book or play, the Grimmerie is the book of magic spells used by the Witch.) While there were no spells to be found in the pages of this particular Grimmerie, it was instead a ‘behind the scenes’ book, all about the characters, music, creators, and design of Wicked.


I flipped open the heavy green cover, and the first page I turned to had a large picture of Fiyero, Elphaba’s love interest. I gasped as I instantly recognized the actor as Joey McIntyre.



For those with no clue who Joey McIntyre is, and why I nearly swooned with delight when I realized he’d been the 2nd Fiyero (and voted “Favorite Fiyero” on BestofBroadway.com) on Broadway, let me remind you of the title of this particular blog post. (I’ll wait while you scroll back up to read it.) Then, let me point you to exhibit A:

NKOTB….from left to right, Joey McIntyre, Jon Knight,
Donnie Wahlberg, Jordan Knight and Danny Wood.


It’s like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, except with Donnie Wahlberg. If there really was a yellow brick road, I’m convinced it would lead me to Donnie’s house.



ANYhoo


We left the swag table, Tina listening to me chatter on and on about Joey McIntyre, and headed over to the double doors leading into the theater. We stood there, waiting patiently, until they finally opened them up and let people stampede wander to their seats. Tickets clutched in our hands, we asked the first usher we came to where we might find Row K, Seats 36 and 37.


She pointed her flashlight down toward the stage and said, “Just keep following the stairs until you find Row K on your right. Then, head toward the center until you find your seats.”


I followed Tina down the stairs. Each step took us closer to the stage. We found Row K, and Tina led the way down the row. And the closer we got to the center, the more excited she became. She kept looking over her shoulder at me, eyebrows raised in disbelief. And there they were, seats 36 and 37–smack dab in the middle of theater, 10 rows back from the orchestra.


Tina sat down, a huge smile on her face, and said, “Remind me that any time I go to a play, I want YOU to get the tickets. These seats are AMAZING!!!”


She wasn’t kidding. This photo was taken from my seat:



We were SO CLOSE, I couldn’t even get the dragon AND the stage floor into the same shot.


At 7:30 sharp, the lights went down, the orchestra began to play, and the show started. I won’t tell you much about it, in case you ever go to see it yourself. Suffice it to say that I laughed, I cried, I applauded and whooped and hollered. At intermission, Tina and I stayed glued to our seats, never willing to miss a single minute. We talked about every single aspect of the show: from music to actors to costumes to lighting. And when the curtain came down at the end of the second Act, I was absolutely awed. 


I was expecting it to be great. But it was SO much more than I ever anticipated. I get weepy just thinking about it.


I will say this: every single person I talked to who had seen the show previously said that “Defying Gravity” would be the highlight of the live show. I’d seen it on YouTube and on various TV shows, so I knew exactly what was going to happen. But when Elphaba took to the sky on her broom for the first time, I was absolutely awestruck. I had goosebumps. All the little hairs on the back of my neck stood up. And involuntary tears rolled down my cheeks. It. Was. Amazing.


Wicked was the topic of conversation for the rest of Tina’s visit. We listened to the soundtrack over and over, talked about our favorite parts over and over, quoted from the show over and over. When she left Saturday afternoon, she gave me a big hug and thanked me for the memory we’d created together. And then my Wicked Weekend came to an end.


I can’t wait for the opportunity to go and see the show again. And I will. Believe you me.


But for now, I’m going to ride the Wicked high I’m still on.


And I’m going to figure out the 6 degrees of separation between Donnie Wahlberg and Kevin Bacon. 


What? I really think I could do it…


*EDIT* Thanks to friend, reader, and fellow book clubber, Rachel, who figured out the 6 degrees between Donnie Wahlberg and Kevin Bacon. If you’re curious, here it goes:  Kevin Bacon was in JFK with Gary Oldman who is married to Uma Thurman who was in “The Accidental Husband” with Ajay Naidu who was in “Office Space” with Ron Livingston who was in “Band of Brothers” with Donnie Wahlberg!

Defying Gravity

Today is a huge day. It’s a day I’ve been waiting for since early November of last year. The tickets have been bought, the dress has been selected, and my date arrived last evening.


Today, I get to see my first off-Broadway play.


Today, I get to see “Wicked.”

This is my “OHMYGODI’MSOEXCITED” face.



I was a senior in college when Wicked first hit the stage. Like all successful musicals, the Broadway stars made their rounds to all the daytime talk shows, to promote the show. I watched Kristin Chenoweth sing her brains out on the Rosie O’Donnell show. I saw both Kristin and Idina Menzel belt out “Defying Gravity” on award shows and late night talk shows. I vowed to see it on Broadway, in New York City, before it ended.


Last fall, Brian and I were watching Jeopardy, eating our dinner, and minding our own business when a commercial, announcing Wicked was coming to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, came on the screen. I squealed. I cried. I jumped up and down. And I begged Brian to take me.


We bought the tickets as soon as they went on sale.


I’ve been patiently counting down the days on my Donnie Wahlberg calendar while harmonizing with Kristin on “Popular.” And the day has finally arrived.


About 2 months ago, Brian made it plain that he wasn’t interested in going to see the show. (He’s not into musicals. I know, he’s a crazy person.) His response to my excitement? “I’ll go if you can’t find anyone else who wants to go.”


So I offered the ticket to the one person in the whole wide world who I knew would be just as jazzed as I was by all the jazz hands. Brian’s Aunt Tina.


The first time I met Tina, we all climbed into my car to go out somewhere. My huge CD book (remember those?) was in the backseat. As we drove through the little town of Boone, headed toward our destination, Tina flipped through, checking out my taste in music. Suddenly, she exclaimed, “You have the soundtracks from Little Shop of Horrors, AnnieAND Oklahoma!!?!! You’re the ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD that I’ve ever met who has all three. Well…except for me.”



We’ve been thick as thieves ever since that moment.


And so, tonight we will pretty ourselves up. We will brave the traffic and drive to the coliseum. We will be there earlier than anyone else, and we will stand in line singing “Popular” and “Defying Gravity” and “I’m Not That Girl.” We will bounce up and down in our seats until the house lights go down. We will take in every single aspect of the production, from lighting to costumes to staging to props. At intermission we will giggle like school girls and relive all the wonderful moments we’ve just witnessed. We will race back inside the theater as soon as the bell dings to signal the end of intermission. We will sing along with all our favorite songs. We will cry when Fiyero dies, and when Elfie takes to her broom, and when Glinda mourns the loss of her friend. 


And when it’s all said and done, we’ll get in our car, drive back home, and talk about the show for the next 3 weeks to anyone who will listen, and to some who won’t.


Today is a huge day.

Today, I see Wicked.


Why Brian Really Needs Ear Plugs Around The House Lately

My life has recently been overtaken by Broadway.

Does that mean I’ve been walking around singing show tunes at the top of my voice, breaking into tap dances at inopportune moments, and overuse of jazz hands?


Yes, in fact, that is exactly what it means.

There are two very big reasons why Brian now has to suffer through my very bad vibrato…and I’m here to share them with you today.

Reason #1: Smash
If you’ve ever been remotely interested in theater life, this show on NBC will rock your socks. For a woman who was once a little girl who dreamed of becoming Little Orphan Annie so I could bring down the house with my rendition of “Tomorrow,”  this show isn’t just another television show. It’s like musical theater crack.

Every single episode is filled to the brim with intrigue, scandal, and artistry. The cast (Katharine McPhee! Megan Hilty! Debra Messing! Jack Davenport! Anjelica Houston!!!!) is fantastic. The music (all totally Broadway inspired numbers about Marilyn Monroe’s life) is fantastic. The story line (sex, intrigue, dream-chasing, infidelity, competition, all culminating in typical theater fashion) is fantastic.

Guys. Are you hearing me? This Show Is Fantastic.

For me, the key to a FANTASTIC musical show, be it in the theater or on screen, is that you walk away from it singing the songs. And I’ve been humming the songs from Smash now since it started  8 weeks ago.

Seriously. I don’t even know half of the lyrics and I’m still belting out “History is Made At Night” in my shower on a daily basis.

 

SO GOOD!!!

I can only make it so clear, people. Let me just say that I’ve already gone back and watched the entire season again On Demand. And I loved every single bit of it the second time through. I’ve already cleared a space on my DVD shelf for this series when it comes out on DVD. And as soon as NBC releases the songs from Season 1 on iTunes…I will be listening to it All. The. Time.

For now I have to wait until Monday nights at 10 o’clock on NBC to find out what happens next. In the meantime, I’m going to keep singing the lyrics I know, and humming the lyrics I don’t. Loudly. And Badly.

Reason #2: Wicked
This famous musical about the Wicked Witch of the West, based on the book written by Gregory McGuire, is one that most people have heard of already. It made its debut on the Broadway stage WAAAAY BAAAACK in 2003, and the music and characters are easily recognizable by most.

In fact, the original Glinda (Kristin Chenoweth) and Elphaba (Idina Menzel) have been featured characters on GLEE. Several of the songs from the soundtrack have also been belted out by Rachel, or Kurt, on the show as well. You can’t get any more famous than that, am I right?

So why am I so currently obsessed with all things Wicked?

Because the traveling Broadway show is coming to Charleston in April. And guess who has tickets?!?!?!?!?!?!

(That would be me.)

I’ve wanted to see Wicked since it first became nationally known, and to finally have the chance to go and see it on a big stage, LIVE…well, I’m just really excited about it. If you can’t already tell.

My new life’s theme song is “Defying Gravity.” It is my new ring tone. And when I’m not singing songs from Smash, I’m belting it out on a regular basis. Sigh. I cry every time I hear it. So powerful!

Also, I want to be Kristin Chenoweth when I grow up. Just sayin’.

I simply CANNOT WAIT to see the show in its entirety next month. And so, in preparation, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack practically endlessly. So, I will be ready to sing the songs all the way to the theater, all the way through the show, and all the way back home again.

What? That’s totally normal.

I can’t think of a conclusion to this blog that is witty and funny, and so I’m just going to be completely honest. I’m going to go spend hours on You Tube now, looking for videos from my two new favorite musicals. Have a nice day. Bye now.