Sunday, March 15, 2009

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Casting Coup: Wicked

My favorite blog put up a challenge yesterday. Nathaniel was on his way out to see Wicked for the second time, and he asked his faithful readers to consider options for, as he put it, "the inevitable movie version." Indeed, I responded to him then and there, but I felt it necessary to allow my own readers in on this.

If you know me in real life (and I have a suspicion that most of my readership does), you know Wicked thrills me not at all. I have been told that it needs to be seen to be appreciated, that the emotion of seeing it played before you takes over and sweeps you along with it. This could be so. I have, after all, heard nothing but glowing reviews from people who have seen the show. But the music, man...I just don't care for it. "One Short Day", the Wizard's songs, "No Good Deed", "The Wizard and I"...ugh. They bother the shit out of me.

You're more than welcome to disagree. Hell, I own Mamma Mia! and one of my favorite all-time musicals is Xanadu (the movie!). Either way, it would be remiss of me to miss out on an opportunity like this. I know so many people that love the show. It's a Tony-winning musical. People love it. There must be something to it, right?

And so, knowing full well that a movie is already in the works fr a planned 2010 release, I'm ready to ride this pony and give you some suggestions of my own. Because sometimes, looking at how a non-fan perceives things can be fun.

Who is He: An Animal who teaches at Shiz, the University attended by Elphaba and Galinda. As a goat, he is under some pressure: the last Animal permitted to teach at Shiz, a number of Animals have lost their jobs and ability to speak. Dillamond is next on the chopping block as the Animal Suppression Act gains strength.

Song: Something Bad

Originally played by:

William Youmans

My Choice: SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Waking Ned Devine) and Best Ensemble (Waking Ned Devine)

David Kelly (Laws of Attraction, Stardust)
Sometimes, I don't feel I have to explain myself.

Who is He: A Munchkin, smitten with Galinda, but forced to remain with Nessarose. Winds up as the Tin Woodsman.

Songs: Dancing Through Life, March of the Witch Hunters

Originally played by: Tony Award Nominee for Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Young Frankenstein)

Christopher Fitzgerald

My Choice:

Josh Peck (The Wackness, Mean Creek)
It's so hard to do this when all you know is the music and a general understanding of the plot. From the picture and what I can ascertain, given that he winds up with a cripple and then a Tin Man, I am going to say that Boq is kind of a dork? Is that right? I don't know, Josh Peck has done musical theater, so here he is.

Who is She: Elphaba's sister, bound to a wheelchair. Elphaba takes care of her, but Nessa is also embarrassed by her. Falls for Boq, then becomes governor of Munchkinland and the Wicked Witch of the East.

Songs: Dancing Through Life, The Wicked Witch of the East

Originally played by:

Michelle Federer

My Choice: SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Into the Wild)

Kristen Stewart (Twilight, Panic Room)
Something clicked. I don't quite know why this works in my head, but it does.

Who is He: A prince, and a rebel! At first attracted to Galinda, he later falls for Elphaba, a result of his arc from self-centered to open-minded. Turned into the Scarecrow to protect him from severe beatings.

Songs: Dancing Through Life, As Long As You're Mine

Originally played by: Tony Award Winner for Best Actor in a Musical (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels)

Norbert Leo Butz

My Choice: SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Hairspray)

Elijah Kelley (28 Days, the upcoming Red Tails)
Talented, young, and studly. Could totally nail that transition. Besides, I think we all want to see him in another musical.

Who is She: Headmistress of Shiz University, she's the real villain of the piece. Morrible is in cahoots with the Wizard to repress Animals. She can control the weather.

Songs: The Wizard and I, Thank Goodness

Originally played by: Tony Award Winner for Best Actress in a Play (The Elephant Man)

Carole Shelley

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Gaslight, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Manchurian Candidate), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Death on the Nile), Golden Globe Winner for Best Supportng Actress (The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Manchurian Candidate)

Angela Lansbury (Anastasia, Nanny McPhee)
Number One: Angela can sing. Two: This is the type of role she used to OWN with an iron fist. Number Three: See those two films listed beside her name? Those are last two feature films she was in. We've been Lansbury-less since 2005. It's time.

Who is He: At first, he seems to be a fatherly sort of chap, a sentimental man who, without children, has instead adopted all of Oz as his kids. But no, instead he's more of a dictator, secretly oppressing the Animals of Oz. There's also a secret bond between him and Elphaba.

Songs: A Sentimental Man, Wonderful

Originally played by: Tony Award Winner for Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Cabaret)

Joel Grey

My Choice: Academy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Cabaret)

Joel Grey (Dancer in the Dark, Choke)
Well, okay, I do like it when an Original Broadway cast reprises their roles for the movie. However, Idina and Kristin and the rest are too old to play the same roles on-screen. We're dealing with close-ups, after all. Carole Shelley as Mme. Morrible? People, we need marquee value -- Angela appeals to theatre queens and old people. Ah, but Joel Grey! Oscar-winner, the oldies remember him, he is a legend among the theatre lovers. Yeah, Joel Grey! Perfect! Ooh, and remember when he talked to Josh Brolin at the Oscars for Best Supporting Actor? Fun times.

Who is She: Beautiful and ambitious, Galinda is Elphaba's unikely roommate at Shiz. They do not get along, as Galinda is perky and seems superficial and vain. The two eventually become friends, but Galinda's status-seeking, and the triangle involving Fiyero, threatens to estrange them.

Songs: No One Mourns the Wicked, What Is This Feeling?, Dancing Through Life, Popular, One Short Day, Defying Gravity, Thank Goodness, I'm Not That Girl (Reprise), For Good

Originally played by: Tony Award Winner for Best Actress in a Musical (You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown)

Kristin Chenoweth

My Choice: SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Hairspray)

Brittany Snow (John Tucker Must Die, Prom Night)
Perky, beautiful, and blonde. We know she can play the social climber, for what was Amber Van Tussle but a little hussy on her way to sleeping to the top? Galinda/Glinda is a character with more depth, though, and Snow could show what a great actress she truly is.

Who is She: The green-skinned gal of Shiz. She has amazing magical abilities, and Mme. Morrible and the Wizard soon take advantage of this. She is rivals and friends with Galinda, and beloved of Fiyero. After rebelling against the Wizard, she is soon branded a Wicked Witch...of the West!

Songs: The Wizard and I, What Is This Feeling?, Something Bad, Dancing Through Life, I'm Not That Girl, The Wizard and I (Reprise), One Short Day, Defying Gravity, The Wicked Witch of the East, Wonderful, As Long As You're Mine, No Good Deed, For Good

Originally played by: Tony Award Winner for Best Actress in a Musical (Wicked)

Idina Menzel

My Choice: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actress in a Drama (Thirteen), SAG Award Nominee for Best Actress (Thirteen)

Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler, Across the Universe)
Her performance in The Wrestler impressed me, and I already know she can sing. Can she sing like Idina? No, and thank God. What this role could bring are memories of earlier promise.

Best Actress: Brittany Snow, Evan Rachel Wood
Best Supporting Actor: Joel Grey, Elijah Kelley, Josh Peck
Best Supporting Actress: Angela Lansbury, Kristen Stewart

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