Sign up for MM  |  Manage Subscriptions  |  MM Archive

Defying Gravity

Last week I made my Broadway debut in the smash hit Wicked, and like the best theater always does, it left me with some big life questions. Based on the clever book by Winnie Holzman and songs by Stephen Schwartz, this musical tells what happened before the Wizard of Oz. Seeing this spectacle of sound, imagery and acting as an audience member turns upside down the hundred-year-old Oz story. Last weekend, I had the once-in-a-lifetime experience to not only see what happens backstage during such a phenomenal production, but to play a tiny role as the first ever walk-on in the show's history.

My Broadway Debut
My experience for Wicked began a few days before the actual performance. I had a tour backstage and then a trip to see Alyce, a veteran seamstress and costume designer as evidenced by the "No Whining!" button on her lapel. I was outfitted from head to toe with an elaborate costume: witch-green boots, a colorful coat, gloves, and a whimsical hat selected by my young sons.

A couple of days later I showed up for rehearsal. Cast member Jennifer Waldman patiently walked me through the "train scene" in which I was to appear. She probably thought I was dense when I asked her to repeatedly go over my bit part, which had no singing or speaking. My job was to walk on stage with Jen like travelers with our suitcases and freeze when Elphaba (the wicked witch of the West) says, "... there will always BE...." Then, when the conductor screams "All Aboard!", I was to spring to life, wish Jen farewell, then move to another woman (Jan Neuberger), talk with her for a moment and then rush to board a train moving offstage.

During the show, I anxiously waited backstage for my two minutes of fame, all the while marveling at the machinery and process to put on such a production. I heeled like an obedient dog to stage manager Bess Glorioso, who constantly moved me to avoid being crushed by skyward props or trampled by cast members rushing to their next scene. Astonishingly, every cast member took a moment to whisper in my ear a warm welcome and cheerful 'good luck' - no exaggeration - every one of them.

When my moment finally arrived, Jen ushered me on stage. I hit the freeze queue. (Yeah!) Then kissed her hand as we parted. (In rehearsal, she told me the regular guy did that so I figured I'd go with what worked!) Then over to Jan for a few moments where she spoke in hushed terms - something about "having fun" - but it was all such a blur. Then when I turned to exit the stage, I was startled to see 10 or more cast members watching my every move and quietly cheering me on. I left the stage elated and relieved, but the pageantry wasn't quite over... as I was to later discover.

I watched most of the second half from the audience where I could ponder the play's meaning a bit more. The play tracks the iconic symbols of good and evil from the Wizard of Oz - the Good Witch Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba (whose name originates from the initials of the original Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum). I will not give away the premise of the play except to say that your moral compass will be left spinning out of control after learning what happened before Dorothy showed up in Oz. I was moved and motivated by the evolution of Elphaba, which was best captured in lyrics from the final number of the first half, Defying Gravity: click here to see the video clip.

Something has changed within me.
Something is not the same.

I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game.
Too late for second guessing. Too late to go back to sleep.

It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap.
It's time to try defying gravity.

I was back in costume on stage for the curtain call with the rest of the cast. I took a bow with the line of gentlemen, which was a great - if undeserved - honor given the minuscule role I played. Then the ladies took their curtsies and then the bigger stars, including finally the witches Glinda and Elphaba played by Jennifer Laura Thompson and Shoshana Bean. With their mics still on, the witches announced to the packed theater that it was one cast member's

The Wicked Cast Members
Broadway debut. The two lines of actors and actresses parted leaving an astonished me alone. I sheepishly made my way to center stage between the witches and took a final bow.

The curtain fell and the cast congratulated me and then erupted in a chorus of "Happy Trails" as is customary to sing for departing cast members. If it is possible to defy gravity, I felt like I was at that time. It was a far more emotional experience than I would have predicted. On the plane flight home, I couldn't help but to remind myself to trust my instincts, close my eyes, and leap.

-- Michael

The Michael's Minute Meter
Total Votes: 601
Do YOU generally agree or disagree with Michael in this week's Minute shown above?
I generally AGREE with Michael this week
I generally DISAGREE with Michael this week
I am MIXED or don't have an opinion either way

View the Michael's Minute Meter Report

record radio; how to record Internet radio

Update from MR
Can't Make A Video Meeting? Don't Miss It - Use Zoomcorder to Send Snoop Dogg Instead
Is the Spotify Deal With Joe Rogan Illegal?
Why Iím Not Wearing A Mask
Social Distancing Doesn't Have to Be Lonely - Can Help
Playing College Basketball Will Make You 6 Inches Taller (Or Why College Attendance Is Worth Close To Zero).
Turn The World of Radio Into A Personal Jukebox
Students Shouldn't Have To Pay For School Transcripts And Now They Don't In One San Diego Suburb
Is Your Kid Paying For Parking To Go To High School? Here's How To Challenge It.
How the Government Invisibly Tracks Smartphones
It's Not Just the NSA, Your Local Police Are Probably Spying On You Too
Why I'm Glad Net Neutrality Is Dead
My Dog Can Get A MRI In 2 Hours, Why Can't I?
Introducing The World's First Radio Search Engine
Is the Domain Name Worth Millions?
Besides Tracking Your Every Move Online, The Government Is Tracking Where You Travel - We're All Under Investigation By The Government All The Time
Hey NBA Commish - Replace Boring Jump Ball With a Challenge Ball
Friendship is Magic
Crowd Sourcing Protection
ACTUAL Stats for radio business and they're very revealing!
Radio Hooks-up With Twitter And UberTalk Is Their Love Child
The Tax Wolf in Bond Clothing
Take a ride on the
Radio Stations Are Dead - It's All About The Content - Introducing UberTalk
Download AM/FM Radio Shows To Smartphones & Tablets As MP3s Using

Copyright © 2001 - 2011. All rights reserved.