Sunday, August 15, 2010

"A New Musical from an Enchanted Land"

As I predicted, a writer's block struck me almost immediately after writing the last post and I've been cruelly neglecting this little blog for weeks. But today, upon finding out that at least one people has read my writings, I'm full with new hope and confidence! A special thank you for that!

And now, to the actual subject of this post: I'm starting to get very excited about the upcoming Finnish premiere of Wicked. The first non-replica production in the world, I might add!
Wicked's not one of my absolute top favourite musicals, though. I've seen it live once but due to the very sad news I'd heard just before the show I was in a really wrong mood to enjoy it. I like the cast recording, however.
But what really excites me here is the idea of a non-replica production.

I don't particularly like the idea of replica productions.
Of course, I'm biased since I've had the chance to see shows on both Broadway and West End and don't need the opportunity to see copies of them. But something about a show being the same in every place around the globe doesn't appeal to me. Partly because I think directors should get the chance to put their own vision of the material onstage and shouldn't be stuck supervising a new production of someone else's concept. And partly because some replica productions get so expensive no theatre in Finland has the chance to do them. The Phantom of the Opera, for example, isn't likely to get a Finnish version with such a cost.

But this new version of Wicked certainly is interesting! It's got my favourite Finnish actor, Tuukka Leppänen, as Fiyero, and the new designs and costumes seem intriguing.
The theatre doing Wicked hasn't made it possible for other people than reporters to get their press photos, though. I hate when they do that - what harm could be done giving the pictures to everybody so they can blog about your show? I'd still very much like to say a couple of things about what I've got to see so far in their online magazine - it has a realistic page turning gadget that's really fun to play with, I might add.
So, let's click that link and have a look!

First, let's talk about the cover - or actually, let's talk about their photos and marketing strategy in general.
I've been frustrated with a couple of things with this.
Firstly, I don't understand how hard it can be to do the green makeup for the actress playing Elphaba for the photoshoots. Let's take the logo they're using in all their ads for example. It can be seen at here. Talk about horrible photoshopping... Were they consiciously going for the plastic feeling or were they just unfortunate to have some intern do their artwork? Whatever the case, now this photoshop disaster can be seen all around Helsinki, often in gigantic size.
Actually, their marketing is pretty messed altogether. The Wizard of Oz isn't that known in Finland, and I get the feeling they're trying to avoid the subject. Their press release only mentioned Gregory Maguire's Wicked, there wasn't a word about the whole thing being based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!
The intro on the theatre's homepage isn't better in any way. Well, it does mention Baum's book, but otherwise it's a horribly written mess. It's done by a journalist who was apparently having a really bad day - it's hard to find any facts or even sense in the article. I'm afraid no one who doesn't know about the musical already will have the slightest idea what it's about after reading it.
The tagline, "A new musical from an enchanted world", says nothing about anything.

But back to the pictures. The cover of the web magazine is already a lot better and doesn't scream "Photoshop!" so loudly anymore, if we manage to ignore Elphaba's lips. And, turning to the first page, we get a little sneak peek of As Long As You're Mine. I believe the tattoo on Fiyero's neck is a new idea, and I like it! Also, Elphaba's lips are finally red on stage, not only in posters!
Turning page again we get more photos. At least my gaze went straight to Elphaba's dress. And I think it looks lovely, the red stripes and the slight transparency on the sleeves are interesting details. And the quite heavy-looking boots fits her character perfectly, at least in my opinion! Fiyero's costume, then again, is pretty dull, but that's understandable - we wouldn't want the supporting romantic interest to outshine our heroine!
Higher on the page we see Glinda in her bubble. I've a feeling this one won't blow soap bubbles as it floats around, but I like the design. Much more bubble-like than the original, I think.
Turning the page, we see Glinda in the dress she was wearing in the bubble, apparently. Quite different from the original, there's not such a strong movie influence here. I'm not sure if I like this one or not... The colour isn't one of my favourites, but then again, I should see the whole thing before saying anything.
But what confuses me is that Dorothy seems to be hanging out in the background. What? Have they found a place in the musical for her? Very weird, I can't wait to see what's that about!
Turning page yet again we see Madame Morrible, I guess. Very interesting hairdo, I'd say, but not in a bad way! No more pictures here, though, and that's the end of the Wicked part of the magazine.

Anyway, the text on the Madame Morrible page deserves a mention before I finish my own writing for tonight.
It says that Stephen Schwartz will be attending the Finnish premiere. And guess who is also going to that premiere! Schwartz isn't my favourite composer, but still, I don't think any musical fan can handle the prospect of seeing a famous musical composer/lyricist live without feeling excited!
Of course, it's not too likely I'd really get to meet him in the lobby of the theatre, but I'm already figuring out ways to ask for an autograph...

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