In 2012 I saw Wicked for the first time and was floored by Rachel Tucker’s incredible performance in the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. Rachel left the show in October 2012 to begin a new role – motherhood! Since then she has originated a role in Sting’s musical The Last Ship (also previously on Broadway) and performed again in the West End. Now however she’s back to her old green ways, performing the role of Elphaba once again on Broadway!
For those of us who have been lucky enough to attend some of Rachel’s solo concerts we’ve heard the story of how her Wicked journey began – years ago she tricked her mother and sister into a ‘shopping holiday’ to New York City, really all she wanted was to be able to see Wicked on Broadway! She jokes about how it cost them more to see the show than the tickets for them to get to America but has reminisced many times how much Wicked impacted her and that when it finished she was crying her eyes out declaring that one day she’d be in the show playing that dream role.
Many auditions and years later Rachel’s dream came true and she was Elphaba in the West End for almost three years, playing over 1,000 shows. On August 18th it was announced that Rachel would be returning to New York City, this time to reprise her Elphaba on Broadway, her dream now completely coming true!
I’ll be honest. Having seen Wicked countless times in the West End, when we booked our flights and everything for New York I said I wasn’t too fussed about seeing Wicked on Broadway. Then, when I found out Rachel would be beginning to play Elphaba again a week before we arrived there – I was immediately looking up tickets!!
Broadway tickets are a bit more expensive than what we’re used to in the West End but I didn’t want to risk not seeing Rachel’s Elphaba again so we booked Row E24 & 26 at a total cost of $195.70 (around £128) and couldn’t complain about the view at all. Like I say I’ve seen the show many times already so even with the slight differences of the Broadway production I knew what was going on.
At first I was surprised by the American accents, it had slipped my mind previous that obviously as I was watching the show on Broadway of course they’d be performing in American English but having only seen Wicked in the UK it threw me!
I’d heard about Broadway audiences being a lot more vocal than those on the West End and they didn’t disappoint, after every number there was a great cheer, plus Glinda and Elphaba both got a cheer for their entrances.
Now let me talk about Rachel’s entrance as Elphaba.
I’ve mentioned already how excited I was to see Rachel as the green girl but words can’t describe the feeling I got seeing her run out on stage like that again! It felt like I’d been taken straight back to 2012 to the last time I saw her thinking I’d never get to see Wicked and the role of Elphaba performed this way after she left the London cast. Needless to say, I was a bit of a sappy mess for the rest of the show from that point on…
At first it was incredibly strange hearing Rachel in an American accent, but by the time we’d got to The Wizard and I this shock was gone and I was back to being purely excited!
No-one can sing the role of Elphaba quite like Rachel Tucker; she’s an absolute powerhouse with a voice to be reckoned with. That’s all I can say about that!
Throughout the show Kara Lindsay’s portrayal of Glinda was one I quickly grew to adore, her comedic timing was so perfect and I loved her vocals for this role. Her Glinda was dramatic and over the top without being annoying, and her rendition of Popular had me crying with laughter! She found the balance of the hilarious Glinda with the somber one which I really appreciated especially in the finale.
The ensemble were really fun to watch in this production, visually it looked like their ensemble is bigger than the West End’s but I think that must’ve been my imagination. They brought a lot of energy and fun to the show, having seen many British ensembles of this show it was interesting to see the different dynamic.
For the most part Wicked on Broadway is visually the same as the West End production but the little differences I noticed were brilliant. Glinda’s entrance in the opening was a lot grander with many more bubbles (silly thing to pick up on I know), and I loved the way Elphaba and Glinda physically run up onto the stage in Defying Gravity on Broadway! One other big difference was at the start of No Good Deed monkeys physically fly over the front of the stalls, I thought that was so magical!
So I had a wonderful time seeing Wicked in New York, it was very apt this being my first show on Broadway, and it felt like I was watching the show for the first time all over again.
Pardon me for being OTT emotional about this but if it weren’t for me seeing Wicked in 2012 and being so enthralled by Rachel’s performance in particular, I wouldn’t be living this lifestyle today. I wouldn’t be as invested in theatre, I likely wouldn’t be writing on this blog, my life would be so different! It’s always good to have something to be passionate about, and theatre became my passion very quickly thanks to this lady! To see her achieving her dreams in this beautiful show, on Broadway nonetheless – that was pretty incredible.
Now, how many times can I acceptably visit New York to see Wicked before Rachel leaves the Broadway company? ;)