Today I bring you an emotional story written by my two good friends Terri Dien and Jaqueline To. They were fortunate enough to see Teal perform in her last show. Here is what happened that day…
Greetings, Wicked Fans! My name is Terri Dien and I’m here to recount the events of Teal Wicks’ last San Francisco performance as Elphaba on Sunday, February 28. From my humble opinion, I have never witnessed a more beautiful day filled with love and camaraderie!
Many were worried about the weekend as Teal came out of stage door after Thursday night’s performance gesturing and not talking but still very sweet and accommodating to the fans. Perhaps Teal would not go on for her last day? There had been much rumor and speculation… innuendo… outuendo… Shudder the thought!
Danielle M., she flew out to San Francisco all the way from Idaho to catch Teal’s last weekend… she met up with us after the Saturday Matinee and managed to score a ticket for the Saturday evening show from the Wicked Ticket Lottery. Vicki Noon, Elphaba standby, was quite amazing that evening. But by intermission, we had it on good authority that Teal would in fact be performing on Sunday. We went home after a great show to try to sleep.
Personally, I had seen Teal perform nearly 38 times since Wicked opened in San Francisco last January. I had promised myself to take every opportunity to see her as many times as possible. I was filled with accomplishment and satisfaction – soaking it up, as it were, but also twinged with sadness knowing it would be my last time seeing Teal as Elphaba.
Sunday morning came early. I checked facebook and saw that Jacqueline was up and had already posted a new status update at 6:42am. Wow! Early bird!! I got myself together quickly and decorated 4 dozen cupcakes I made the day before to give out to fans and the cast. Two kinds: Wicked (chocolate with crème de menthe buttercream) and Popular (lemon with strawberry buttercream). Jacqueline and her housemate Jena came to pick me up at 10am. We piled into my car and drove up to the Orpheum Theatre.
Emotions were flying. Bittersweet, for we knew this would not be the last time for Teal. We are all looking forward to what she will bring for her next projects. She’s got so much talent the sky’s the limit for this girl! Excitement, for we knew it would be an amazing day to see the fans come out to support Teal!
Fact: Fans of Teal Wicks (a.k.a. TWickies) support each other (and Teal) unconditionally.
We arrived at the box office early to meet up with other fans and put our own names into the ticket lottery drawing to help those without tickets. As we waited for the lottery to commence, we shared cupcakes, chatted with one another and handed out Twickies buttons for others to wear.
Before the show, Jacqueline was fortunate enough to get through the stage door to present a few meaningful gifts to Teal. First, she explained to Teal how the TWickies all came together to collaborate on a t-shirt to wear for this important day. She gave Teal a few t-shirts, mugs and some other souvenir items from the Zazzle store set up in her honor. She went on to explain that proceeds from the sales of the Twickies products were donate to the American Red Cross to help with their earthquake relief efforts in Haiti and Chile. The T-shirt project is something I am particularly proud of – I helped get Jacqueline in touch with a graphic artist who, with the input and suggestions from the TWickies, created the design for the t-shirts. Jacqueline helped create the ordering site on Zazzle.com and disseminated the information to everyone on how to order his or her shirts.
Among other gifts presented to Teal were some fun things like a bottle of nail polish, a candy glam ring, a beautiful new hat and, most meaningful of all: a calendar Jacqueline created that included photos of Teal with fans and collages of Teal in various benefit appearances throughout the year. It was a terrific gift for Teal to look back on 2009 and see how many people she touched while she was here in San Francisco.
Jacqueline has always been so terrific in showing her support for Teal and Wicked SF and she’s also so incredibly generous with getting other fans involved. Did you know that she’s the one behind the Fans of Teal Wicks twitter account – tweeting updates every night to let others know if Teal is performing? Did you also know that she created the Fans of Teal Wicks group on Facebook, which enabled fans from all over the country meet, discuss and share all things Teal and Wicked-related? She single-handedly galvanized the hundreds of TWickies together for one purpose: to show Teal how much she is loved and appreciated.
The energy was palpable as the audience filtered into their seats before the show began. TWickies were approaching one another, greeting with hugs and handshakes, recognizing each other from their facebook photos.
I was getting more tense and emotional the closer the time got to curtain. I felt like I was going to burst into tears any second. The emotional wave crashed over me finally at the beginning of the first act. During the very first number, as soon as Glinda came down in the bubble. This was it – the last Teal Wicks performance in San Francisco had begun. Months went into preparing for this day; and suddenly I didn’t want it to happen. Tears were streaming down my face but I waited for the appropriate times when the cast turned away from the audience to wipe them away.
As soon as the doors opened and Teal came running down, the audience erupted in loud cheers and applause for her. It was wonderful to see Elphaba! Teal performed beautifully through the first act. Only those who knew she had a sore throat could tell the difference in her performance – the rest of the audience, seeing her for perhaps the first time were impressed, as always. I continued crying – so proud of this gorgeously talented girl.
Things were going well — we all laughed and cheered Teal on through the first act. Then, suddenly, I knew it was the end. Teal struggled with difficulty through the top range of Defying Gravity. The TWickies roared and cheered her on until the lights went out. I cried even more from the amount of love and support there was.
At the end of intermission, an announcement came to say that Vicki Noon would be continuing the role of Elphaba for the remainder of the performance. Three of us, seated in a row, hung our heads, but applauded as encouragement and appreciation.
Surprisingly, the tension and anxiety I felt in the first act faded away and I was able to concentrate on the play and enjoy it more. Vicki again was her stellar self as Elphaba. I stopped crying and felt more relaxed. Second act went by rather quickly.
At the end of the play, during the curtain call, Kendra Kassebaum (Glinda) beckoned and coaxed Teal out of the wings. The audience erupted with roaring cheers and screams again to see Teal, this time, dressed in her street clothes.
Kendra made a lovely and sweet speech, and said how much Teal will be missed. I think you can actually see the video on the Fans of Teal Wicks group on Facebook. I don’t remember much; I was too busy crying again.
Seconds later, we were all out on the street in front of the stage door with seemingly hundreds of people waiting for Teal and her castmates. The atmosphere felt like a street festival – everyone chatting, hugging, taking pictures and just generally happily visiting with one another.
Finally, with a huge welcoming whoop from the crowd, Teal came out of the stage door. The wave of energy felt like a gigantic group hug! There were so many people there to see her! TWickies were all there in full force, taking photos of each other, with cast members and in groups… it felt like some kind of reunion party… only it was technically a farewell gathering!
Teal was so sweet to take time out for each person who wanted to see her. A few words were exchanged, hugs, a picture or two… I couldn’t stop smiling I was so happy for her! And Neka Zang (Witches’ Mother)!!! That lovely woman stole the show by asking Teal to sign her TWickies button! I gave her a button to wear and she turned it into the coolest collector’s item by getting Teal’s autograph on it!
Everyone was so patient and respectful of each other. Everyone politely waited for their turn to say good-bye to Teal, to wish her well, to thank her and to hug her. Teal just glowed – she was so happy and deeply touched by everyone’s well wishes. Jacqueline, caught up in all of the positive energy, acted as the de facto traffic cop, calling out, “NEXT!” for everyone’s turn to talk to Teal. I think it was well over an hour and a half Teal spent outside the stage door with everyone. After one huge group TWickies photo with Teal (seemingly 8 different cameras!), we all disbanded, wishing Teal good luck and thanks.
A few of us went out for an early dinner before we all went our separate ways home. When I got home, it didn’t take long to see how busy the TWickies had been – within just an hour photos from the stage door were already cropping up on Facebook! The curtain call video had been uploaded and shared before midnight.
I’m not sure if any other actress who performed as Elphaba ever got such a wonderful send-off as Teal did; and I’m not comparing one to the other, but from what I witnessed last Sunday, Teal’s fans have so much love to give. All of this could not have happened without Jacqueline’s efforts. I’m so glad Teal was there to receive the send-off she deserved! She will truly be missed; but we all look forward to the next project in her rising career!
I’m sorry this blog was so long, but it was a very intense day filled with lots of meaningful events and awesome people. Added up, it was just One Short Day in the great career of the fabulous Miss Teal Wicks!