ANYTHING GOES and WICKED in San Francisco (Tour update)

While in San Francisco this past week, I had the opportunity to catch up with two favorite Broadway shows on tour — the first national tours of ANYTHING GOES and WICKED. Good news for the former, not so much for the latter.

Anything Goes (which I originally saw in NYC and then on tour in East Lansing) continues to get tighter as it goes. The entire cast is stronger than the original Broadway cast, and Rachel York is simply superb as Reno Sweeney. Erich Bergen is as smooth as a glass of scotch playing Billy Crocker (catch his cabaret act in whatever town the show is currently playing!). Fred Applegate continues to amaze as Moonface Martin. Alex Finke is lovable as Hope, and Chuck Wagner steady as the Captain. Edward Staudenmayer’s performance as Sir Evelyn has grown and grown, and he is a wonder, especially once the show plunges headlong into “The Gypsy in Me” sequence in Act Two. Overall, the Anything Goes tour is one of the strongest casts you are going to see in this very strong production. Do not hesitate to get tickets.

WICKED, on the other hand, is showing its age. While most of the performances in the current first national tour are first rate, some of the cast members have far outlived their roles. Dee Roscioli continues to play a fine Elphaba, but her counterpart Patti Murin as Glinda is starting to look tired. Cliffton Hall sings a fine Fiyero, but is getting too old to play the part. He’s been doing this for a long time, and where he used to look boyish, he now looks like a man…a 40-year old man (he’s 39). Justin Brill (35) is particularly too old to be playing Boq at this point. 

The cyclorama is water damaged and wrinkled, and it is particularly startling to see this in a Broadway set. When hit with amber or orange light, the wrinkles show from center stage left all the way to upper stage left. You can tell someone has taken the time to try to straighten things out — because the handprints show in large streaks along the edges of the clockface on the cyc. Its unforgivable. Fortunately, the First National tour is still using the fully realized sets, including the bridge, which the other tour companies have now downsized to flats. 

Its a mixed bag overall — but Wicked is in need of some fresh cast members, and some cleaning up and tightening as it continues its journey on its eternal tour. 

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