Lots of things surprised me about the show; the main one being how funny it was.
I was familiar with the score and sort of knew the premise of the show. Hubby loves the books and had given me a rundown of that. Putting it all together, I imagined that the second half especially would be super dark and I couldn’t imagine how they’d have anything close to a happy ending or why it was considered an appropriate show for children, and trust me, since this was the matinee there were plenty of kiddies there.
But it was funny. All the way through. Yes, some of it was dark and there were absolutely heart-breaking, gut-wrenching moments, but the humor kept showing up in unlikely places. I adored Glinda’s “Evita” posture at the beginning of the second act, and I was willing to go along with the contrivance of the “happy ending.” I especially liked the relationship between the 2nd act and The Wizard of Oz movie, although I noticed the shoes were the Silver Slippers of the book and not the Ruby ones of the movie.
I figured that the lion cub would be the Cowardly Lion and I know that Fiyero became the Scarecrow, but I didn’t get Boq becoming the Tin Man until it was actually happening.
Another surprise: PATTY DUKE!!!
I’d heard about this from [Bad username: blueashke] a few weeks ago, but totally forget. Patty Duke is in the San Francisco production as Madame Morrible. PATTY DUKE!!! The Miracle Worker! Valley of the Dolls! Patty Duke Astin from a bunch of game shows I used to watch when I was growing up. She did a great job and it was really nice that she got her own round of applause when she came out.
Our cast was generally awesome. We had an understudy (Natalie Dardich) as Glinda, and she was just amazing. I loved the guy (Nicolas Drommard) who played Fiyero, as well. SEXY!!! Teal Wicks was a great Elphaba, but didn’t own the stage as much as Dardich did, which I guess is inherent in the two roles. I really really wish I could have seen Joel Grey in the original Broadway production. Our Wizard (Tom McGowan) was fine, but I’d have liked to see the smaller, still light on his feet Joel Grey play the part. (I saw a Youtube clip of Joel Grey and Alan Cumming singing “Wilkommen” together at a Kander and Ebb tribute from a few years ago, and much as I adore Alan Cumming, Joel Grey pretty much blew him off the stage.)
Another surprise was how much it was a dancer’s show as well as singer’s show. Some really aggressive intricate choreography. Since Stephen Schwartz also wrote my beloved Pippin, I felt the ghost of Fosse was hanging around the choreography a bit, but I didn’t really mind.
Awesome set design, special effects, costumes etc. I'd also been worried that the "flying" would be in the old Peter Pan in a harness mode, which is wasn't. AT ALL.
Now I know why everybody loves this show. It’s corny, but I can’t resist: It really is WONDERFUL!