Today I bring you the review of the last show for Eden Espinosa, Kendra Kassebaum, and Nicolas Dromard in San Francisco on the evening of Saturday, June 26th, 2010. This was written by Liz Osborn and published in Witches of Oz and her blog. She was fortunate enough to see them all perform in their last show. Here is what happened that day…
The electricity in the air was palpable. There were so many people in the theater that I knew, and we were all talking and laughing and being excited. My seat was in Row D, seat 4, so I was on the right side of the theater… not too far right and only three rows back (yes 3, there’s no Row A on the far side!) so the view was perfect.
Show ended up starting a few minutes late; not surprising considering they were probably all running around backstage like crazy people, sharing the love and all that jazz. But soon enough, Bryan Perri [conductor] brought his baton down for the first note and everyone was riveted.
Immediately after the Ozian yelled, “Look! It’s Glinda!” the audience exploded. And we did not shut up for at least a good minute. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but you sit there and stare at the clock for a minute straight and you’ll feel how long it is. It was amazing. And Kendra couldn’t do anything but stand in that bubble and grin her beautiful head off. Even the Ozians down below were cheering, remaining in character all the while.
The show continued, lots of heart even in an opener like this. I was watching Nicolas a little bit in this scene too, because he’s in the ensemble for this number, and whenever he interacted with another Ozian (generally female, I believe he dances with Holly or Annie or maybe both) they were really sweet with each other, and the scripted hugs meaning even more than they usually do.
Eden’s entrance warranted a boatload of applause as well. It seemed like Kendra didn’t even want to go offstage. Even Jody got applause when she marched in as Madame Morrible, and she’s not leaving the cast! It just shows how hyped up the crowd was. Eden blew the top off this number; this was only the fourth time I’d seen her, and all of the times prior she’d (unfortunately) been off her game. So it was lovely to finally be able to hear her sing the way I’d heard she could do. Riffs all over the place.
“What Is This Feeling” was really good, as well. Kendra inserted a few *snap snap* flourishes, like, “Come get this, b*tch,” and it was cute, and Eden imitated it a few times later on. There was even a moment after the ensemble kicks in and they’re all running around the stage and singing together where she rose her voice about the clamour for added effect on “I LAID EYES ON YOU!” Eden imitated Kendra’s hand-raised flailing perfectly, to hilarious effect.
In Dancing Through Life, as Teal_Wicks_For_Good (Jacquie) mentioned, it was a little tricky to time Nic’s entrance applause! I had my hands poised to go as soon as he rolled in, but since TWFG was right behind me, I let her cue it, and it ended up happening as soon as Fiyero and Avaric did their little handshake-jig. It was cut a little shorter than I would’ve liked, though, because Eden went ahead and delivered her line.
Nic bonked Etai on the nose with the book he later flings offstage. Hahaha. Etai was obviously not expecting it at all whatsoever because he almost completely busted up laughing. Kendra also whacked him good-naturedly with her purse later on in the same scene. 🙂 Hilarious antics.
Eden’s dance was funnier than ever, and deliberately slow and kooky. Glinda’s rebuttal was deliberate and graceful, the standard I’ve come to expect from Kendra.
Popular was phenomenal. Kendra really put her all into it, and it’s different every single time with this woman. My favorite moments included the little moon/underwear flash from Kendra as she LA LAAA’d, and the “whirrr zzz” noises she makes during the ballgown wand-waving… and when she hands Elphie the mirror, Kendra put her finger under Eden’s chin, brought her up to eye level, and said, “You’re. Beautiful.” and everyone’s hearts went “Awww”.
Defying Gravity was amazing. I love Eden’s timing when she rises after Kendra puts the cape around her. Slowly, until the music peaks, and then she raises her head. Everything was so poignant and real. Kendra looked like she was genuinely fighting to get away from the guards, and I’ve seen her just “struggle” as called for by the script. The last notes of the song were just amazing, Eden riffing all over the place, conducting the last note with her broom and ending to thunderous applause. One of my favorite moments is when they kill all the lights, but the spotlights take just milliseconds longer to cool down than the others, so even though it’s dark you can still see Elphaba’s face lit among the darkness. Happens every time and it’s so cool. Anyway. Everyone was on their feet as the house lights came back up.
Anyway, after a few more amazing cupcakes (hee hee) it was time for act II! Much to our dismay, one of our friends ran back into the theater to tell us that Fiama’s name was up on the board for Morrible. (We love Fiama, of course, but we were just sad that something happened to Jody.) And sure enough, as the lights dimmed, they announced the change. I think this is my favorite scene of Kendra’s, especially when she sings, “…you didn’t know you crossed until you crossed!” Her voice just fills up the whole theater on that last word and it’s gorgeous. And after Fiyero runs off and Kendra yells after him, I guess her mic was up and you could hear her say “Ohh” worriedly as the Ozians reacted to her cry. I just love how thought-out every. single. aspect. of her performance is. Just that simple “ohh” tells me that Kendra is completely immersed, and that Glinda is actively thinking of her excuse, that she doesn’t have ~lines memorized~, that she’s actually reacting to what’s going on around her. And I love every moment of it.
Deedee blew me away that night in WWotE, and I think it was helped by her real emotion about the departure of the cast. Her final cry, “It was Elphabaaa!” was plaintive and her voice broke and all the emotion she was feeling just poured into the note and it was beautifully heartbreaking.
Kendra didn’t need the “nnn” at the beginning of her low note at the end of “I’m Not That Girl”. She hit it dead on, pure, and gorgeous.
Nicolas and Eden were on fire in ALAYM. Nic didn’t have to reach for his high notes, and their harmonies were perfect. They even took up one of the harmonies at the end; I don’t know if they planned it or have done it before, but it was so, so amazing. (By “took up” I mean like notationally, probably a fifth of the scale.)
Kendra actually didn’t whack Eden’s broom with her wand, and I was a little disappointed because it’s such a good addendum. But I think the scene was a little rushed and they just sort of launched right into the actual catfighting. Nic seemed to fight a little bit against the guards after he’d been grabbed, which I liked.
Eden totally nailed every aspect of No Good Deed. I love that she switches up the timing of some of it, like on the spoken parts (i.e., “Nessa?” etc.), she comes in a beat or two later than you’d normally hear (a la OBCR). It’s just another aspect of her completely unique and thought-out performance and demonstrates her complete musicality.
“For Good” was amazing. It made me tear up, but I didn’t start really crying until the curtain went down. Neka tweeted that the Scarecrow had a drawn-on tear, which I didn’t see until Nic tweeted a picture this afternoon because it was on his upstage side. But that’s still amazing.
Anyway, curtain call, I thought the applause would never end until Deedee finally stepped forward and asked for a moment. She made a short-but-sweet heartfelt, tear-filled speech, and then they waved for a few more moments until the curtain finally, finally came down For Good.
There were more people at the stagedoor than I’d ever seen, and everyone (except Kendra, the mystical unicorn) took the time to go all the way down the line and see everyone that wanted an autograph or a picture. Eden was there the longest, of course, and people left as she signed, but she stayed until the very last group of people could go home happy. It was lovely. I’m going to miss them all dearly, but I hope we gave them a send-off they’ll never forget. Best of luck to them in their future endeavors. ❤
Thanks again Liz Osborn for such a wonderful review