Thursday, March 5, 2015

My Experience at Wicked at Atlanta Fox Theatre March 5, 2015 Matinee

In 2011, my friend Ernie and I unexpectedly saw a performance of Wicked at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. When I heard the show was going to be in Atlanta this year, I was very excited because I felt guilty that Terry had not seen the show before and I knew he HAD to see it for sure. Like most gay men, we love The Wizard of Oz so this is something that I knew he would enjoy.

Buying tickets was sort of an ordeal, we had waited a little late to buy them...I was actually waiting on my tax refund. Buying tickets for a popular show 3 weeks before you're projected performance time is not a good idea. Buying 2 seats together seemed to be a chore in itself. I checked the Fox Theatre's website, they charged a $20 fee on top of the cost of the seat for each ticket. As a server $40 is sometimes considered a "good lunch" and I'd rather not pay for something if it isn't necessary, plus I'm super cheap.

I decided to stop at the box office one morning while on my way to work...Almost every show was sold out, if they weren't, you could only buy single tickets away from each other in most sections. The gentlemen at the ticket booth told me my best option was March 5 1pm show Orchestra Right Row X seat 18 and 20...$98.00 per ticket. Knowing the balcony overhangs row N gave me an idea that these seats weren't bad at all. I've seen Phantom from every part of the Fox and can say any further back in the orchestra and once you get into those double letter seats in the back, it's uncomfortable and are good for obstructed views. These seats were definitely a good choice considering it was our best option. I bought those babies and off to work I went. Once I got to the restaurant, I requested the day of of the show off...there was no way I was paying $98 per ticket and missing it for a possible $40 shift. I did get my day off!!!

Terry started feeling bad the night before last and has been coughing so yesterday we went to the pharmacy and loaded up on Alka Selzer Cold & Flu for daytime and night time. Loaded my shirt pockets with cough drops and a couple of Dayquil Pills for when I knew his Alka Selzer would be wearing off.

We headed towards Midtown by noon and the temp was around 65 and a bit windy and starting to look drizzly. Parking at the Fox is a complete clusterfuck, especially during the day because you're not only having to find a spot among cars that have paid for parking while they are at work, you're competing for a spot among other theatre goers. T-minus 20 minutes before curtain and Terry and I are trying to park...We saw a lot that had $20 parking, I had my $20 ready until I saw a sign that read FULL. I told Terry to head down to the Walgreens and Publix and hopefully we'd find paid parking around there...NOPE there was none so we decided to chance it and just use the Publix parking lot and hope we didn't get towed or booted.

We made it in about 10 minutes before the show started. We used to make mad dashes to buy t-shirts and programs but we stopped doing all that unnecessary spending years ago. Straight to our seats we went. Those seats weren't bad at all, I couldn't help but feel bad for those crammed into the first 20 rows of the right and left of the orchestra section though because those were most definitely obstructed views.
This is the 4th time Wicked has played Atlanta but the first time for the 2nd national tour. The official website of the show essentially states there's no difference between the first and second national tours aside from the cast members. I knew this wasn't completely true considering I had known since this production had originated in Chicago that it had been scaled down a bit. Having seen the 1st national tour, the differences I could spot in regards to the staging and sets included the Flying Monkeys didn't climb the prothcentium, Morrible was off stage during her announcement during Defying Gravity and was no bridge above the stage. Despite the differences, the production value and spectacle of the show was just as enjoyable as the last time I saw the show.

I had filled Terry in on things to look for throughout the show, though I didn't give away the key moments of who becomes what and I was careful not to spoil the twists that happen in the end...He was completely shocked that I was as good at keeping all of the spoilers to myself and allowed him to witness everything for himself.

When we opened our Encore Atlanta magazines...The Fox's version of a Playbill...We were met with 2 At This Performance notices...Glinda will be played by Beka Burnham and Elphaba will be played by Emily Koch. I LOVE watching understudies and standbys...while some people see them as the villain that stole the starring role from the regular actor, I see them as the unexpected stars that deserve their chance to shine...I guess it could also be the fact that I was an understudy a few times and I knew how it felt to get the chance to do what I do. Understudies are not only unique for the most part, they usually morph the best parts of other performers into their own performances. Both Beka and Emily were an amazing pair...I know I'd get flack for this but I personally thought they were much better vocally than Idina and Kristin's performances on the Original Broadway Cast recording.
Emily Koch as Elphaba
John Davidson's Wizard was good, I have been a fan of his since his days on That's Incredible and Hollywood Squares. The man is 73 years old and dances like he's still in his 50's...vocally he's a little shaky since I saw him in State Fair on Broadway but then again he's 73 years old. Madame Morrible, played by Kristine Zbornik was more than suitable...you felt she had an agenda from the beginning and there was nothing sweet about her other than the fact that she was great in the role. Liana Hunt's Nessarose was FABULOUS to say the least. Lee Slobotkin's Boq was tragically hilarious and adorable. Former boyband O-Town member, Ashley Parker Angel was Fiyero, his vocal choices were well placed and and unique. My favorite Ashley Angel moments were during As Long As You're Mine where seem more genuine than a few I've heard sing this role.

Back in the day, favorite top five musicals were The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Starlight Express, RENT and CATS...and most everyone knows that The Phantom of the Opera was at the top of that list. Having seen Wicked, I can honestly say that Wicked now rivals Phantom for my top pick.

After the curtain call John Davidson and Ashley Parker Angel along with Lee Slobotkin acting as their model had the audience take a seat and explained as we leave, there were cast members in costume taking donations and selling special items in the lobby and the proceeds would go to Equity Fights AIDS. One of the items was a large showcard (poster) autographed by each cast member for $60...I usually don't buy showcards but I definitely wanted this baby. As I headed out to the lobby, I made my purchase/donation and Terry and I rushed out the front of the Fox in hopes to find the car where we left it.
It was about 4pm, the temperature had dropped at least 20 degrees from the time we arrived. We had no jackets or hoodies so I went into power walk mode...six blocks of zig zagging across streets. We made it to the Publix parking lot and the car was still there!!! We started the car and the temp read 39 degrees. I checked accuweather and it was pretty accurate...except for the fact that the windchill was actually 24 degrees.

On a side note, if you've even wondered the difference between seeing a matinee and an evening show at the Fox...There's not really a difference. The daytime crowd seems more respectful and well behaved and I noticed no offensive old lady perfumes like Odyssey by Avon.

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