One short day in the Emerald City
We go backstage at Wicked to find out what makes the show magical.
Wicked recently flew into Singapore for the second time with a brand new cast. On Friday, Youth.SG took a trip backstage at the Marina Bay Sands to see what goes into staging the age old story of friendship, love, and what really happened in the land of Oz before Dorothy flew in.
Upon entering the backstage area, lovingly titled Wardrobe Village, I didn’t know where to start. Racks of costumes of all kinds lined the stage, with shelves of masks and wigs just waiting to be placed on actors’ heads. Most characters wear at least one wig during the show, with some of the girls wearing up to three throughout the show.
Leigh Constantine, resident director for this international tour for Wicked, said: “Each costume tells a story, even on the Ozians. Some of them have ruffles bursting out, showing their true evil intent bursting out from inside.”
I could not wait to see them on full display during the evening show.
To say Wicked opened with a Bang would be an understatement. The first sound of ‘No One Mourns the Wicked’ had the ensemble bursting forth in various shades of green, with ribbon work and beautiful choreography.
The musical follows the unexpected tale of popular blond Glinda and outcast green-skinned Elphaba as they travel to meet the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a decision that ultimately seals their fate in becoming Glinda the Good and The Wicked Witch of the West.
The two girls first meet in Shiz University, where they become roommates against their will, after a mishap in the room arrangements. Several incidents in school result in the girls becoming ‘two best friends’. As the journey continues, Glinda’s thirst for popularity and Elphaba’s need to stand up to a blinded world ends up separating the duo ‘for good’.
Jacqueline Hughes, who plays Elphaba, hit the high notes of ‘Defying Gravity’ with such ease and her vocal abilities resonated throughout the theatre in ‘No Good Deed’. However, her performance did not connect with me as much as I hoped it would have, in particular her somewhat forced chemistry with Fiyero in ‘As Long As You’re Mine’.
On if she had adapted from past Elphabas, Jacqueline said: “I used to watch and learn from Rachel Tucker (who plays Elphaba in the West End version of Wicked) and so many others when I was in the ensemble. They’re all great role models.”
Carly Anderson, her counterpart who plays Glinda, brought so much energy to her role with a spring in every step. This energy might have been a bit too much for me to handle, but her vocals were past spectacular as well.
When asked about her journey to landing her dream role now, Carly said: “It’s a very tough and competitive industry…you need to have a tough shell to carry on and pick yourself back up.”
This was only the second show in their three-month tour, and doing eight shows a week is by no means easy.
What does the cast do to cope with such a long tour? Many try to keep their surroundings as constant as possible, keeping several mementos of family and things brought from home. For example diffuser reeds which Kim Ismay, who plays Madam Morrible, brings around with her on tour to maintain the smell of her dressing room.
All in all, this show will definitely get better as the weeks go by, and is not one to be missed!