Chris Scalzo brings us the latest from WICKED Singapore…
I really don’t know where the first few weeks of 2012 disappeared to, but they have most definitely wandered off somewhere and now I feel like the end of February is already waiting impatiently on the corner, tapping its foot and looking at its watch with a furrowed brow.
The Christmas/New Year period passed here at WICKED in the blink of an eye – a veritable blur of shows and bouts of festive spirit.
Christmas Day was particularly heart-warming; especially upon wandering the corridors of our company accommodation before our first show of the day and hearing everyone Skyping their loved ones, candidly responding to being flashed images of platters of prawns and slices of turkey and Grandpa wearing a paper bonbon crown and raising a beer to the camera. Our audiences over Christmas were strong and present and there was a very unique feeling during our Christmas Day shows that both audience and cast alike were part of something that was, on that special day, even more memorable then usual.
We awarded our much-hyped Christmas door competition winner to the Stage Management team after a highly competitive voting process that saw our dashing Fiyero, David Harris, running a potent campaign, complete with personalised ‘how to vote’ cards in an attempt to claim the prize. Needless to say, he was pipped at the post by an exceedingly extravagant door display, complete with electronics and a stuffed toy Elphaba defying Christmas-themed gravity. Unfortunately, the Male Ensemble’s effort of casting a musical based on Santa’s reindeer (Dances with Hooves) did not receive the true artistic appreciation it deserved. Biased? No. Inspired? Yes.
While spending the holiday period working had its moments of unifying joy, there were of course moments when all the touring company felt pangs of homesickness and it was thus a similarly mixed feeling in the theatre the following week around New Year’s Eve. While content to be where we were, we also wished we could be with our nearest and dearest even for the briefest of moments.
After our two-show day, we were able to deftly cut through the enormous throngs of people that engulfed the Marina Bay Sands in record time to settle ourselves on a glorious rooftop garden area to watch the incredible fireworks over the Bay as the clock struck midnight. Without being too candid, I can tell you that my first kiss of 2012 was a deeply passionate one (between me and a hunk of Brie smeared on a cracker). Not a euphemism…
One of the many pleasures of living and breathing another culture while touring was personified by the fact that as soon as we began to come down from the hype of New Year’s resolutions and 2012 screaming into very real existence, we were greeted by the prospect of celebrating all over again with Chinese New Year a few weeks later.
The appearance of streets full of red envelopes, yet more fireworks and elaborate flower displays was a welcome and warming change to the sometimes saccharine westernized New Years celebrations. Slightly less welcome was the tendency for everyone in Singapore to feel the need to bang large drums in the street at all hours of the day and night…
The WICKED cast and crew were gathered together in the shared loading dock between the two MBS Theaters to watch and participate in a traditional Yusheng Ceremony, commonly referred to as the ‘Prosperity Toss.’ This was a particularly eye-opening moment for me when I realised that the ready-made raw salmon and salad-like ingredient packs that I’d seen in stores and that were used for the ceremony were not ‘cute MYO rice paper roll kits’ like I’d been telling everyone, but rather an important and yet edible element to celebrating Chinese New Year and welcome wealth, luck and prosperous good fortune.
While the premise of hurling food into the air with chopsticks and yelling ones deepest desire for the coming year initially seemed relatively straightforward, there were a few moments of headiness when the slices of raw salmon, grated carrots and sweet dressing ceased defying gravity and came hurtling back to earth – settling on faces, heads and down a neckline or two…
As for the show itself, it continues to go from strength to strength and the Singaporean audiences carry on responding with great joy. A personal highlight for me was going on as Boq for the first time a few weeks ago, which was in equal parts satisfying, exciting and a little nerve-racking (during a particularly heated quick-change and a zip just flat out refusing to come to the party on my first show). But all in all it is always a nicely fulfilling element to being a principal cover; getting to stretch the muscles you rehearse so often in private in front an audience and see the world of the show you know so well from a totally new perspective.
The coming weeks will see me being able to give you more of an insight into the lives of other cast members and also other departments through a series of interviews and a guest columnist or two. The Wardrobe Department for example, is sitting on a plethora of interesting gems…for example, I only found out during last night’s show that WICKED requires more then 7,000 different fabrics for Susan Hilferty’s costumes to shine as they do! Now that is truly remarkable.
The Australasian Touring Company of WICKED hopes that your New Year brings hope, inspiration and drive to all you wish to succeed. Everyone deserves the chance to fly!