Tag Archives: musical theatre

Sentiments of a Former Stage-Door Virgin

Believe it or not, even as a multitasking fangirl of an assortment of things and people, I don’t know how to ask for photos or autographs, or linger at a place to wait for people to make an appearance. Truly I don’t and never have.

And that’s something else I’ve learned from the musical Wicked. Before the show began, we happened to catch the tour bus arriving at the artists’ entrance. Did I approach the cast, take pictures, ask them to sign anything? Nope. I just stood there. (To be fair, though, I know all about the hustle and bustle involved to prepare for a show and figured they shouldn’t be bothered.) One of the actors walked past me, nearly bumped me, and apologized. I mumbled, “That’s all right.”

After the show, when one of my favorite friends suggested we meet the cast at the stage door, I didn’t know what to do. I had no camera on hand, no pen, no confidence (mostly this) . . . only a measly programme. I nearly ran away twice.

At this point my friend had to intervene and approach a girl gripping a pen (aha!) and also hesitating. He asked her if he could help by making sure she got the Wizard’s autograph . . . as long as she also lent us her pen. Haha! It worked! The Wizard, Jay Laga’aia (screen credits: Star Wars Ep. 1 & 2, Xena, Legend of the Seeker) turned out to be a very accommodating man, and he even asked for my name.

This gave me renewed hope and though most of the cast had already, by this time, gone into the tour bus, Galinda and Elphaba were still due to emerge. Obviously, they were what most of the crowd were lingering about for. But anticipating it would take some time, I started eyeing some of the relatively low-profile (in that nobody was asking for their photos/autographs) dudes coming out of the stage door. I spotted a very tall young man, and thinking he might have been in the ensemble, I approached him (anxiously) with that question.

He laughed. I relaxed; he had kind eyes. “No, I’m the sound guy,” he said. I congratulated him on the quality of sound during the show and meant it. I suppose because there was no pressure, him not being one of the “stars” to get starstruck by, I managed to get a conversation going. I found out that they were the same sound team from the Phantom of the Opera, which I’d seen the previous year. A lot of this cast (mostly ensemble) were the same people in Cats (which I’d also seen) and Love Never Dies.

We kept on chatting until the tour bus arrived, at which point I realized I’d never asked for his name. It occurred to him first (see how nice he was?), so after introducing ourselves I wished him a merry rest-of-the-tour and that I hoped to see more of their team’s productions, possibly next year. (His name was Nick—Nicolas Hammond, Head of Sound, has worked in this field in musicals since 2006. Thanks, Internet.)

This encounter with such a pleasant person warmed me, and just in time. At this point, also, the actresses playing Elphaba and Galinda were finally emerging from the stage door. I found it in me to approach and ask if I could shake their hands. They were sweet and equally accommodating to the waiting crowd, especially to their younger fans. I was relieved and delighted to see this. Not that it would have taken anything away from the beauty of the musical if they’d turned out to be stuck-up divas, but because they were not, my first real “fangirl” experience was in all aspects rewarding.

I suppose, like everything else, fangirling only takes practice. I can’t wait to do it again.

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Fantasticalacious, Stupendifying! [My Wicked Experience]

The magic will never wear off, but my memory isn’t as reliable. So hear ye, a blog post. Wait, let me turn up the Wicked soundtrack first. There. Perfect.

I have loved Wicked the musical for a good many years now. But it wasn’t until two days ago that I fell in love with it.

Let me backtrack a bit. Ever since obtaining a (pirated, teehee) copy of the soundtrack in my much, much, MUCH younger years, I’ve listened to the songs a lot but never actually got to experience the play in a visual sense. So how the play appeared in my mind existed completely, well, just there—in my mind.

I sort of got to perform a bit of it once, at a friend’s debut. We had this (dare I say it myself?) clever idea of tweaking the eighteen-candles tradition into something infinitely more fun—eighteen Broadway excerpts! A good friend (Nina, who’s now singing in operas in Middle Earth) and I sang “What Is This Feeling?” (the one with a lot of loathing in it). I was, of course, Galinda, who remains my favorite character, and to sing “Popular” remains on my bucket list.

I digress, as always. Back to Oz-Manila.

When I stepped into the theatre, my jaw dropped. The stunning mechanical time dragon. The stage itself, made up as giant cogs and gears. That very steampunk stage design. The costumes—oh Holy Mother of Cthulhu. My drool spilled into a bucket, which I luckily happened to have on hand. (Not really, no.)

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[Yes, I took that one picture before the show, but none while it transpired. I can’t help feeling that taking photos at shows is a lot like tourists spending their entire tour looking for good photo opportunities. You forget to relish the present in your frantic attempts to create souvenirs of what is soon to be the past.]

The main characters kept up the essence of the original Broadway cast, which was at the same time, I believe, a combined feat of casting and study. The actress playing Galinda, especially, was very Kristin Chenoweth in voice and mannerisms. From afar (our seats were far) we could make believe it was actually Kristin out there, not to take anything away from the Aussie actress playing Kristin-playing-Galinda, who was excellent in her own  right in spite—and because—of this.

The ensemble, too, was brilliant. It was only when I began flying off to watch these touring shows that I noticed what a lot of local productions I’d seen lacked. Oftentimes, the ensemble is just that—a chorus, a faceless unit in charge of the background songs and dances. But that’s not the way it’s meant to be. Every face in that “crowd” is important; in fact, every one of them should be an individual character, never mind if this character is not named in the programme. And when they’re effective, you can look at them one by one and know who they are in terms of the story. They sing and dance and interact completely on their character’s terms without compromising the collective choreography and blocking.

[Allow me to digress a little. Having my eyes opened to that is precisely why, in my real-world theatrical pursuits, I’ve always stressed that the cast in the chorus take on their own characters, whether assigned or of their own creation. In The Clockwork Princess, I gave them designations, descriptions: the Investigator, the Law Enforcer, the Time Agent, etc. In Facebooked! I pushed for the chorus characters to be based on Facebook prototype profiles: War Freak, Gossip Girl, and more.]

I like to kid that watching these international musicals isn’t relaxation; it’s research. In all honesty, it’s both. Both a wonderful way to unwind and a complete learning experience. This, folks, is what education should be like. If you live where I live, love musicals just as much, and have seen nothing but local shows, I recommend doing what I do. Save up for it. Plan for it. Make it an event.

Well yes, you might not be able to eat for a month (if you live from paycheck to paycheck like I do), but I guarantee you will not regret it. A bonus: you’ll probably even shed a few pounds from the imposed starvation.

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