More time with the witches on Wicked’s extended run

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
More time with the witches on Wicked�s extended run
Carly Anderson as Glinda

MANILA, Philippines - The international touring production of the musical Wicked is extending its run in Manila. This was recently announced by the producers Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and Concertus Manila.

Now playing at The Theatre of Solaire Resort in Pasay City, the West End and Broadway phenom that tells the deliciously clever “back-story” of the Witches of Oz will be playing to Pinoy audiences until March 19.

For those who are wondering if this is the same show that Lunchbox and Concertus Manila brought back in 2014, it is not the same production. The first one originated from Australia and it became a massive hit here that ran for seven weeks and drew some 100,000 theatergoers, according to Lunchbox head James Cundall in a previous interview. Nevertheless, the creative heads behind the new edition, which coincides with the 10th anniversary of Wicked on West End, maintained that it’s the same and more.  

“This was specifically set up as a standalone production. From a mental point of view, it’s everything you’d expect in Wicked,” resident director Leigh Constantine said. “Within the company, there are some people who have done the show before. But on Day 1 of our rehearsals, we went and started from the beginning and created this show from scratch again.”

That means this company has been together from the onset, she said, so much so the way the story is told has grown together with the cast as well. “The comradeship of the performers and the quality of the new production come together. Even if you’ve seen the production before, this is not going to feel like that production has come back again. It’s going to really feel new and exciting piece.”

Still and all, setting up a completely new production has its challenges and merits.

“The easiest thing is the fact you take on board the knowledge of a production that works and you know the bits that work, or you know the bits that make audience feel good, what looks amazing. But then, you can take a little step back and look at it with new eyes. It’s not changing the story, it’s not changing what everybody knows and loves. It’s stepping back and going in, what are the tiny little changes we can do to tell the story even better.”

When asked about the tough part of (re)doing in a way, a long-running, tried-and-tested production, Leigh said it’s not falling into the trap of doing something just because it worked before. They have to make sure that it still comes across fresh and exciting each time.

The production is living up to that promise by way of more automation, choreography, flying and magic! The Wicked production also boasts of a new director and choreographer from Broadway.

And the cast, borne out of a lengthy process of auditions, is another if not most compelling reason of trooping to The Theatre and having your fill of Defying Gravity.

Leigh said, “We had to get the best possible cast for the show. Everybody has to be correct for the role. And because it’s about working as a team together, we had to take it very seriously that the chemistry was right,” Leigh said.

Apart from, of course, the lovely female leads Jacqueline Hughes and Carly Anderson who play rivals and friends Elphaba and Glinda, respectively, a must-watch is the man who comes in between the two, Fiyero (played by Bradley Jaden).

The STAR had the opportunity to chat with the actor and discovered that he’s a good friend of Rachelle Ann Go after they were able to work together on Les Miserables last year.

Bradley said that he didn’t expect he’d find himself in musical theater. “No, I haven’t. My sister was an opera singer but I was into rock and karate, then I got into acting. I did this school audition of Les Miz. Then, I went for the open call of Miss Saigon when they did a tour for that when I was 17. I auditioned as (the leading man) Chris. But I was so young, so I was told by the casting director, ‘Go to drama school!’ I said OK, I just went with my gut, and went to drama school and I just loved it ever since. I loved that breakaway of freedom from being Bradley for a couple of hours and just perform on stage.”

The 29-year-old looker, who also starred in the musicals Shrek and Ghost, is very grateful to be a part of Wicked. He said, “You know, I think in this industry, it’s very hard to succeed or be given this chance. There are so many performers who can do this job just as much as I can and I think, every time I perform in these massive stages, touring a show like this, we really have to be grateful and it’s down to luck!”

Bradley recalled his audition. “I was there at the right time and the creators, they wanted to bring Fiyero to a completely different direction from those on West End.”

His long-haired, ruggedly-handsome Fiyero is a departure from the usual look of the other actors cast in the role. “But for me, I’ve got to take this opportunity by the horns. It has changed my life because I’ve got to see beautiful countries and perform before crowds who will not have the opportunity to go to London and work with the best people on stage and backstage.”

(For tickets, call 891-999 or log on to www.ticketworld.com.ph.)

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